Women mobilize to halt the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone

Door-to-door volunteers and traditional chiefs are educating and gathering information in their communities on prevention and the impact of the Ebola virus on women.

“Don’t touch!” warns feisty 3-year-old M’ballu Jalloh when her friend tries to draw her into a childhood game. Her apprehension reveals the level of awareness that even children now have about the Ebola Virus Disease in the town of Kailahun, in eastern Sierra Leone near the borders of Guinea and Liberia.

At least 2,455 cases of the disease have been reported across Sierra Leone as of 5 October, resulting in over 700 deaths.

M’ballu is among the 1.5 million people who have been reached by the Ose-to-Ose Ebola Tok (Door-to-Door Campaign) in September, which UN Women supported in Kailahun. Nearly 29,000 young women and men volunteers — cutting across all sectors, regions, religions, tribes and political lines — worked together over three days, leaving their comfort zones to reach remote villages.

“I am doing this for the love of my country, because no amount of money can be compared to the risk involved,” said female volunteer Jatu Kaneh.

Volunteers started their day as early as 5.30 a.m., trekking treacherous roads, sometimes under heavy rains. Some even had to carry their motorbikes, along with heavy cartons of soap on their heads.

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