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.
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