The multiple consequences of Ebola epidemic on children

Beni, a city located east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been facing Ebola since August 2018. Since that day, Ebola has not only bereaved the people of Beni, but has completely destroyed it.

How it all began?

The epidemic was centered on the commune of Mangina, located 30 kilometers from Beni. There are many exchanges between Beni and the surrounding communities, including Mangina; people movement widened the transmission chain. Some people left Mangina to come to Beni as “contacts”. These people were traveling while infected. Because of this, many people in Beni were infected without knowing, many died.

The people of Beni did not understand the disease and its consequences right away. For them Ebola was politically motivated and prevented the response teams from working. “Ebola is a business, not a disease”, the rumors said. This resistance even led to the loss of a WHO epidemiologist expert in Butembo, Dr. Valery Richard.

Children deprived of their childhood

Ebola affects Beni children in many ways; if it is not the child himself who falls sick, it is his father, his mother, his brothers, or his sisters.  Many children, after losing their parents or one of them to Ebola, suffer trauma and stigma.  Julienne, 7, lost her father. “The children say that I will contaminate them”, says the young girl who has no more friends. People affected by Ebola experience pure stigma and are singled out.

The disease caused too many deaths and stigmatization of the cured people. Since Ebola arrived to Beni, everyone suffers and children are deprived of their childhood. Since mother Esther died of Ebola, her four children are no longer in school. Their father no longer has the means to take charge of their schooling.

Let’s put an end to Ebola!

Today, 80% of Beni population knows that Ebola is a real and very serious disease and this is very important for cutting the transmission chain of the disease. In order to control the outbreak, a community based surveillance system (CBSS) has been put in place. Community relays have been deployed throughout the city and go from house to house to find out the situation: to see if there are any people who have symptoms, if there are out of town visitors, etc. When community relays identify people who need to be vaccinated, they explain the importance of the vaccine and the risks of not getting vaccinated.

With everyone’s involvement, we must eradicate Ebola so that there are no more Ebola victims. We ask the partners to help affected children by setting up child-friendly spaces for them to play, to be comforted by psychosocial assistants and to become children like any other.

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Article written by Grace, Jason, Premice, Sage and Rachel

Translated from French by Dorsaf N. James

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Enfants Reporters de Beni

Depuis le début de l'épidémie d'Ebola, les Enfants Reporters de Beni se mobilisent pour sensibiliser la communauté locale, nationale et internationale.

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