Tzu Chi Distributions in Response to Ebola in Sierra Leone
In the first round of relief distribution to Sierra Leone in the wake of the Ebola epidemic, which as in 2015 subsided, though 0 cases has still yet to be achieved, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, in collabora-tion with two other humanitarian organizations, the Healey International Relief Foundation (HIRF) and Caritas Freetown, set out to help provide relief goods and food supplies, distributing a total of 1,512 Tzu Chi multi-purpose portable beds, 3000 bowls with covers and spoons, and 15,740 kilograms of Tzu Chi’s “Jing-Si” rice and 2720 of Tzu Chi’s eco-blankets, all of items which, except for the bowls and spoons, are distributed specifically during the organization’s disaster relief missions. Using the extensive field expertise and experience of the HIRF and Caritas Freetown, the Tzu Chi Foundation was able to distrib-ute these relief goods to various beneficiaries, including 1) government hospitals, 2) nonprofit clinics, 3) Ebola Response Centers (NERC), 4) an orphanage home, 5) an amputee community, and 6) Sierra Leo-ne’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA).
In total, the partnership between Tzu Chi, HIRF, and Caritas Freetown implemented 7 days of distribu-tions for more than 25 different locations throughout Sierra Leone, each location was one of the six stated location types, specifically 16 government and community hospitals/clinics, 7 Faith-based health clinics, the ‘Amputee Community of Newton,’ the MSWGCA, and 4 orphanages. The distributions are as fol-lows:
The first day of distributions began on March 18, 2015, at 3 different locations, one in Allentown, Free-town, and two in Newton, which is 24 miles east of Freetown. The first was at the Allentown Ebola Chil-dren’s Interim Care Center, where 200 blankets, 100 beds, 100 bowls and spoons, and 5,000 KG rice and rice flavor were distributed. In Newton, 40 blankets, 20 beds, 20 bowls and spoons, and 1,000 KG rice and rice flavor were distributed at the city’s Ebola Children’s Interim Care Center; and in Newton’s Am-putee Community, 40 blankets, 20 beds, and 5,000 kg of rice and rice flavor were distributed to families in the community.
The second day of Tzu Chi’s relief mission, March 19, saw the distribution of 50 blanket and 200 kg of rice and rice flavor to Sierra Leone’s MSWGCA; and at the Ebola Children’s Interim Care Center at No.2 River, 80 blankets, 40 beds, 40 bowls and spoons, and 2,000 kg of rice and rice flavor were distributed. The third distribution on March 19 was at St. George's Orphanage, which included 80 blankets, 35 beds, 35 bowls and spoons, and 2,000 KG rice and rice flavor.
On March 20, 2015, the third day of distributions, Tzu Chi and partners delivered donations to Connaught Government Hospital, distributing 200 beds and 200 blankets. Afterwards, the St. Ann’s Convent of St. Joseph Sisters of Cluny was visited and given 100 blankets and 50 beds. Partners then visited the Wilber-force Military Hospital and delivered 50 blankets and 50 beds to the medical superintendent. Distributions were also supplied to the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) & Ola During Children’s Hospi-tal: 100 beds and 100 blankets.
On March 21, 2015, Tzu Chi’s partners drove to the Northern Province and gave donations to Port Loko Government Hospital in Port Loko District: 50 beds and 50 blankets. Partners continued further north and distributed donations to Kambia Government Hospital in Kambia District: 100 beds and 100 blankets. Tzu Chi then returned to Newton and participated in the opening ceremony of HIRF/Caritas Freetown Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Health Clinic in Newton (Amputee Community), and gave the clinic blankets and beds.
On March 22 & 23, 2015, the final days of distributions, the 3 organizations visited the Eastern Province of the country and distributed 120 beds and 120 blankets to the Kenema Government Hospital. After this distribution, the coalition drove to the Southern Province and distributed 100 beds and 100 blankets to Bo Government Hospital in Bo City, Bo District.
As the distributions ended needs and future humanitarian relief activities and projects were identified. The highest needs identified by the coalition were 1) Education—68% illiteracy rate, 2) Hunger Preven-tion/Eradication, 3) Healthcare—the national healthcare system and infrastructure, as identified by the coalition and by the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), needs to be strengthened, and 4) Poverty reduction/Employment—Unemployment rate in Sierra Leone is estimated to be over 80%. Projects that can help are, for example, adopting hospitals/clinics which will strengthen the country’s na-tional healthcare system, implementing recycling programs (there are no recycling companies in Sierra Leone), supporting schools by strengthening school infrastructure by, for example, providing Tzu Chi’s modular classrooms to reduce overcrowding and basic school supplies, and also by educating and em-powering farmers while providing seeds and working with local community non-profits with the same missions.