During the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015, Patty and Allen Morell, long time missioners and partner church representatives for Osterville UMC, stayed with the children in the residential program to shepherd them through a very dark time. Here, the Morells share the scriptural principles that kept them going.
The times in which we are living may feel very strange to most Americans. We got a good taste of how it feels to be quarantined for months at a time back in 2014 and 2015 during the Ebola Virus outbreak in Sierra Leone. When many international volunteers, NGOs, as well as some Sierra Leoneans themselves were leaving the country in fear of Ebola, we felt we could not desert our Child Rescue Centre family in Bo. We made a very prayerful and conscious decision to stay in Sierra Leone. In August 2014 with the blessing of the Sierra Leone UMC Bishop John Yambasu and Helping Children Worldwide, we went into lockdown with 44 Child Rescue Centre resident children, and 9 CRC staff plus 5 security guards, all who volunteered and committed to live inside the compound 24 hours per day, not knowing how long the Ebola Virus might be active in Sierra Leone.
How did the CRC keep 60 people in lockdown for eight months safe and healthy, keep up everyone’s spirits, as well as prevent boredom? It was accomplished in ten very intentional ways.
When the lock down ended on April 22nd, 2015, after the entire country had gone through 42 consecutive days (2 cycles) of no new cases of Ebola, the CRC gates were enthusiastically opened and all of the staff returned that day for Wednesday Afternoon Devotions. Together we celebrated this joyous, long anticipated occasion! We all sang a song called, “Together Again.” There was not a dry eye in the Great Hall. The next day all of the CRC Aunties left the compound for the first time in eight months, to go home to their own families. Other CRC women staff volunteered to stay with the children that night.
The commitment of the devoted CRC staff and security guards was remarkable and totally selfless. The CRC children and staff, and all Sierra Leoneans who lived through the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, have an amazing testimony to share. While the Ebola crisis was tragic on so many levels, we will always remember that time spent with our CRC family with great fondness.
This article originally appeared in the HCW December 2020 magazine.
Francess Batty's father was one of the hundreds of heroic health care workers who died caring for Ebola patients. (The Ebola heroes who are giving their lives for others, January 16, 2015, The Telegraph.) While working as a community health worker at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Samuel Batty contracted Ebola from a pregnant woman, and transmitted the disease to his wife. Both Samuel and his wife died, leaving their four children orphaned.
Francess, who was in her second year at Njala University, became the provider and caretaker for her younger sisters and brother. At the recommendation of the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Child Rescue Centre reached out to the family and began providing them assistance. Francess, who was already a student at Njala University, applied for and was granted a Promise Scholarship, so she could complete her degree and continue to take care of her younger siblings.
In June, Francess graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting with honors. In an interview with CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu, Francess expressed her gratitude for the help and encouragement she received during a very desperate time in her life.
"In the first place I want to appreciate Child Rescue Centre for taking me this far. Since I lost both parents during the Ebola saga, CRC has been my help so I want to express my thanks, and may God bless the CRC. With the help of CRC, I can be proud of being a graduate from Njala University.
I thank my sponsors Matt and Beth Reed, and pray for God’s abundant blessings for them. Also my appreciation to the staff, especially the guidance counselor [Princess Kawa] who played a great role by advising me to make good use of the opportunity given to me by the CRC and to always be a good example.
The Promise Scholarship that was awarded to me has helped me so much in achieving my dreams, since I was in second year and now I am a graduate. In addition to my tuition, the CRC has been providing me a monthly stipend to pay my transport fare, provided textbooks, and relevant learning materials for me to study hard.
As I have got my first degree, my future career plans are to further my studies to acquire my master’s degree, and also gain a good job for me to take care of my younger ones, because I am the eldest in my family.
In five years from now, I hope to be in another level. I would like to be a role model in the society, having a good job or even have plans to gain further scholarship.
For the younger ones who are in JSS and SS, my advice is for them to focus on their studies, be good boys and girls and to make good use of the opportunities CRC is offering to them, which is a huge blessing.
Francess, left, in her graduation gown, and with CRC guidance counselor Princess Kawa. "I want to be a role model," Francess says.
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