Dear Ebola fighters from NT-NL:The news from Sierra Leone has generally been favorable regarding the decline of Ebola, until the last two weeks, that is. The decline appears to be reversing with more new cases emerging. We need to continue to pray and remember our brothers and sisters in SL.To that end, we had a wonderful Council meeting last weekend. The Council authorized the additional $ 8,000 needed to meet our full $ 30,000 commitment to the current Wet Feeding program. They were able to do that from excess giving to the Mission Area last year…the first time we’ve had an excess in many years. Good timing…or should I say God’s timing! I hope you saw my LifeLines from Sunday night with a fuller update on how things are going.We are going to continue to receive funds and the Council has asked that I invite congregations to designate special Lent offerings for Ebola relief. We will be moving into support for orphans as well as future feeding programs. That is currently undefined; but I will share more as we learn.Finally, Bishop Barnett has declared the ELCSL Assembly to be held September 10, 11, 12, & 13 and I will be going to that if Ebola is no longer a threat. Others are welcome to join me. If you would like to go, please let me know and I’ll add your name to a list that I will start keeping.
Thank you for your prayers and support of the Ebola scourge.
Grace and Peace in Christ,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone (ELCSL) Bishop Tom Barnett joined the NT-NL Mission Council on Saturday morning to talk about Sierra Leone and the Ebola epidemic. He shared some of the work the Lutheran Church has done in Sierra Leone, much of which was made possible thanks to donations from NT-NL and the ELCA.Bishop Barnett thanked the members of the NT-NL Mission Area for their donations and prayers.More than 9,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa, but Bishop Barnett also noted there are 2,217 survivors—the incidents of survivors has “helped contain the fear and misinformation about Ebola, the mistrust of the people toward treatment.”One of the major problems early on was people felt there was no hope, that there was no cure for Ebola and therefore treatment was not necessary. They would choose to stay home “to die” rather than seek help at the hospital, and that contributed to the spread of the disease. As people have seen that there is hope, that there are survivors, they were more willing to seek treatment.
While the Ebola crisis itself is lessening, the societal problems associated with broken families, homeless children, and cultural decline will take years to address. Access to food is still a critical need, especially for the roughly 3,500 children who have been left orphaned by the disease.
With funds from NT-NL and ELCA, the ELCSL has established a “wet feeding” program for communities in need. Through these programs, teams train the people in the community how to cook and provide food to feed the children in the community at least three times a week. The funds already given will sustain this program for the next few months (through April).
The council voted to send $8,000 to Sierra Leone to continue this feeding program. They will also encourage congregations to designate their Lenten offerings to Sierra Leone, to continue to fund this and similar programs.
An update from Bishop Kanouse, originally sent as an email to the Sierra Leone Companion Team and interested parties.Dear NT-NL Friends:We had a great meeting of the Sierra Leone Companion Team today to discuss NT-NL status on the Ebola response. The attachment to this email is a clarified update on where things stand financially.Bishop Tom and Pr. Marie Barnett were present and described in detail the effects of Ebola on the country noting that both the government (which is mostly paralyzed in their response right now) and the churches (which are getting credit for their great response–especially the Lutheran Church because of their partnership relationship with NT-NL and ELCA) are shifting from Ebola medical response to counseling, feeding, and care of children, many of whom have become orphaned.There will be a long term response needed from the world-wide community to help Sierra Leone and other West Africa nations rebuild… perhaps even more difficult than after the war.
The third feeding program is ongoing. This “wet feeding” is a program in which meals are prepared for more than a hundred people, mostly children, and served to them three days each week.
The $65,000 we, along with the ELCA Global Mission, are sending has initially provided such a wet-feeding in three communities already, with two more are taking place as I write this, and two more are on the schedule to be started in February.
We were heartened by this ongoing feeding program in addition to the dry feeding that took place previously, through our first two programs. We agreed to send $22,000, which we have on-hand now to the ELCA, with another $8,000+ as we receive the funds. See the attached.
We also thank IDEA Foundation for helping fund the current feeding program with a $ 5,000 donation.
At the moment, there is less need for us to consider future containers, but more need to consider feeding, counseling, and orphan care, as I have noted.
We heard from Bruce Moilan (member of Grace, Carrollton and our contact with Brother’s Brother Foundation) that he has been asked to go to Sierra Leone for up to three months to help create some infrastructure and to help streamline distribution of goods from containers.
There is benefit to us for him to go. His many trips thus far have been to Liberia; his first trip to Sierra Leone will be useful for us to gain information. The missionary house in the Lutheran Compound was offered as possible housing. His going is not endorsed by the ELCA global mission due to Ebola conditions, but we offered support as needed.
Pastor Deb McCann is coordinating travel for Bp. and Marie to visit congregations in NT-NL through assembly time after which Bp. Tom will be heading home. Election for a new bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone (ELCSL) will happen in late summer and there is hope that we will have someone present from NT-NL in order to support the assembly’s process.
Grace and Peace in Christ,
A message from Bishop Kanouse:With the end of November in the books, I am thrilled to let you know that NT-NL has now raised $128,492 for Ebola Relief! What an amazing response! This means we can fully fund a fourth container through Brother’s Brother as soon as they are ready to ship and we have invited Bishop Barnett to submit a proposal for another feeding program.That’s the good news.The bad news is that the situation in Sierra Leone is getting so much worse. Orphans roam the streets, we have heard of a cousin of the Barnett’s, a doctor, who has died of Ebola, and the disease is spreading even more rapidly now.
Please continue to lift up our brothers and sisters with love and prayers for healing and God’s grace to intervene.
A message from Marie Barnett, wife of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone Bishop Tom Barnett:
The Dr. Thomas T. Rogers is my 1st cousin. He was one of the top Surgeon Specialists in the country (German trained). It is big loss to our family. He and my husband Tom went to the same High School. May God take this cup away from us. Thank you for keeping up with the news.
Bishop Tom Barnett is coming for an extended visit on December 29 and he will be staying with Marie who has been her for the past 2-3 months. He will be available to visit congregations and tell the Sierra Leone story. If you would like to invite him, please contact Pr. Deb Louden-McCann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from BBC.com: Sierra Leone Annouces House to House Searches December 17, 2014
From HealthDay News: Ebola Survivors Face Critical Face Critical Problems December 16, 2014
From NBCNews.com: Horror in Sierra Leone: A Single Spark Gives Ebola New Life December 13, 2014
From BBC.com: 2014 TIME “Person of the Year” Goes to Ebola Workers December 10, 2014
From Voice of America, Washington: 10th Sierra Leone Doctor Dies of Ebola Dec. 07, 2014
From BBC.com: Ebola Crisis: Returning to Kigbal Village in Sierra Leone Dec. 4, 2014
The official death from Ebola over the past 3 weeks has more than doubled from 52 to 131 per 7-day week.In the week of November 4-10, 52 people died of Ebola, according to the NERC figures. The following week, November 11-17, 85 deaths were recorded. In the third succeeding week, November 18-24, the figures increased heavily from 85 to 131 deaths, showing a jump in the death rate from 12.3% to 34% over just three weeks.On the other hand, the number of confirmed cases fluctuated from 421 in the week of Nov. 4-10 to 533 for the week of Nov. 11-17, showing an increase of 112 cases. The succeeding week of Nov. 18-23, the number of confirmed cases fell by 148, from 533 to 385 cases.These figures do not in any way tell the story most Sierra Leoneans would want to hear, which is that Ebola is going away. The depressing revelation however is that in the last 21 days the death rates have more than doubled, from 52 a week to 131 last week. This shows that the Ebola Virus Disease shows no sign of “burning out” or reaching the peak before starting to come down as it has done in Guinea and Liberia.
Regarding the number of cases reported, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone’s Bishop Tom Barnett writes, “But even more scary and heart breaking is the number of child orphans I saw talked with in the communities. As a community, we surely have our work cut for years after Ebola. Thanks for your continuous prayers.”
Please keep the people of Sierra Leone in your prayers. Please remember them in your giving.
Your donations are making a difference. In a message to Bishop Kanouse, Luke Hingson, President of the Brother’s Brother Foundation (with whom NT-NL has partnered to ship containers of medical supplies), reported:
BBF just received word this morning from Dr. Karen Asher that our first air shipment of pharmaceuticals (3,000 bottles of antibiotics and hypertensives) arrived in Freetown this week and has cleared customs for distribution among CHASL member hospitals and clinics.
The shipment required special approval by the Ministry of Health Sierra Leone.
We hope to arrange additional shipments (sea and Air) by year end.
Some of our work with the Sierra Leonean community in Washington DC was highlighted earlier by Voice of America:
Thank all of you in Texas for collaborating with BBF.
As of November 6, we have received $85,700 in donations. The money you have donated has also provided much-needed food to the people of Sierra Leone, especially those in quarantined areas. In addition to the $15,550 sent in August, NT-NL has provided $36,700 to fund a feeding program through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone. Thank you for your continued support, through prayers and donations, for the people of Sierra Leone.
After the first container sent in partnership with The IDEA Foundation through MediSend International, NT-NL has sent two more 40-foot containers (and will send a another in December) through the Brother’s Brother Foundation, “a 56-year-old gift-in-kind charity that focuses on medical and educational needs around the world. BBF has served 146 countries worldwide with over 100,000 tons of medicines, medical equipment, textbooks, educational supplies and emergency disaster aid.”“Gifts-in-kind” are donations of surplus equipment and supplies, which are then redirected to areas in need. BBF, located in Pittsburg, receives donations of medical equipment from area hospitals. Since materials are already donated, funds are needed to cover shipping costs only.One important aspect of the BBF’s work is that they are in the areas where they are sending aid. They work with area hospitals and agencies to find out what they need and how BBF can best meet those needs.Bruce Moilan, member of Grace Lutheran Church in Carrollton, has been working in Liberia on behalf of BFF for the last several years. When he first arrived in Liberia, he discovered several containers of supplies and aid which had been sent through the years (from various organizations), but had never been opened.He set to work unpacking those containers, sorting out what could still be used and what had to be tossed out. Thanks to his continued work in Liberia, and the connections he has built working there, equipment and supplies sent through BBF to Liberia and Sierra Leone are promptly unpacked and the materials go to the hospitals, doctors, and nurses who need them, and are properly trained in how to use them.
In our third container, NT-NL purchased several gallons of steramine, a cleansing agent. It sanitizes and disinfects like chlorine, but steramine comes in pill form, to be mixed with water when one is ready to use it. Each pill creates six quarts (one and a half gallons) of cleansing agent; as long as the water is blue, it is sanitizing. If the water is no longer blue, add another pill.
Not only is it easier for us to ship these pills overseas, but it is much easier for doctors, nurses, and other personnel to carry a bottle of these pills with them, to mix with water as needed to clean and disinfect, than to cart around gallons of chlorine.
The NT-NL Sierra Leone Companion Team organized the purchase of the steramine tablets to be included in the next shipping container after receiving the request directly from members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone and their partners. Our companion synod relationship, as well as the personal relationships between our NT-NL members who have family and friends in Sierra Leone, grants us this unique opportunity to not only provide financial assistance, but also to find out how your donations can be used most effectively to help those in need.
Through these same connections, we became aware of another great need in Sierra Leone. The quarantines mandated to help curb the spread of Ebola created their own crisis: people did not have food. People were afraid to travel from town to town, and even those who did dare brave the trade routes were no longer allowed to do so due to the quarantine regulations. Food was scarce, and the little food there was cost too much for people to be able to buy.
We immediately sent $15,550 to send food to the quarantined villages. The food purchased with these funds went directly to the people who were suffering the most, in the quarantined areas, most of whom were not members of Lutheran congregations but were brothers and sisters in need.
The need for a food assistance program was evident, so working with Bishop Barnett and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, we established a feeding program for our congregations, and have sent $36,700 to fund that initiative.
You, the people of God, have stepped up to help your brothers and sisters in Christ, through prayers and donations. Congregations have committed to donating funds from their events and called for special offerings to be given to this cause; individuals have come forth and offered to match donations if the congregation meets a certain goal; people have auctioned off personal items to raise donations.
We have received checks from congregations all throughout our mission area and from individuals and congregations in states far beyond Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. You are spreading the word about our efforts, asking friends and family to donate, and they are responding.
Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do. This fight is far from over. Even after the disease is contained, the people of Sierra Leone will need our love and support to rebuild their lives after this devastation. Please do not let this issue slip from your hearts and minds after it slips out of the news cycle.
From ELCA.org: ELCA Synod Responds to Ebola Outbreak
The Ebola Response continues to grow even as the disease continues to explode in West Africa. Our first two containers are scheduled to arrive in Freetown this coming week with a third one leaving port in the US on Tuesday. The first food program is continuing with distribution of food to villages that are quarantined and the second food program funds should be arriving soon, so that the program to give food to villages where our 23 congregations are located can get started.
Congregations in NT-NL and beyond have given nearly $ 70,000 to the cause thus far and funds have been requested for a fourth container in December. The dead throughout West Africa are now counted at over 3,500 and clinics can no longer treat new patients. The CDC Director in Sierra Leone acknowledged this weekend that the Epidemic has “won.” Patients and families are being issued PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment) and are being sent home without medicine or hope. The situation in Sierra Leone and Liberia worsens by the day. Please remember our brothers and sisters in your prayers daily and pray for this scourge to be gone.
The situation in West Africa is not improving. CNN reports “The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has killed at least 2,600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the countries most affected by the virus — since the first case was documented in December.”As of September 24, 2014, the NT-NL Mission Area, ELCA has received $57,822 in donations for emergency relief response for West Africa. We have received generous donations from individuals and congregations in NT-NL, and also from individuals and congregations beyond our mission area. Thank you for your support!So far, we have sent two 40-foot containers of medical supplies and “PPE” (personal protective equipment) to Sierra Leone. The first container was sent in cooperation with The IDEA Foundation, through MediSend International; our cost for that container was $10,000.
The second container of medical supplies and PPE was sent through Brother’s Brother Foundation, also in cooperation with the IDEA Foundation, for a cost of $8,000. Both of these containers were sent in late August.
We also sent $15,550 to Sierra Leone to provide food for the quarantined areas of the country. These funds provided rice, tomato paste, onions, Magi (bouillon cubes), and cooking oil to 244 families (each family usually has 10-15 members), enough to feed them for a month.
We are continuing to work with Brother’s Brother Foundation, an organization that has been working in and sending supplies to West Africa for years. The medical professionals in Sierra Leone have asked specifically for Steramine, a cleaning and sterilizing agent similar to chlorine. Steramine is easy to ship as it comes in pill or powder form; it is then mixed with water, and water can continue to be added without diluting the sterilizing potency.
With Brother’s Brother, we have purchased Steramine to include in the next container. The Steramine cost $2,569, and is ready to go as soon as the rest of the container is filled; the cost of shipping the container will be $8,000 (the other materials included in the container are donated by hospitals and other organizations).
We are also working with Bishop Tom Barnett of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone to fund a feeding program for the congregations of the ELCSL, and we have authorized $36,700 to be sent next week.
To meet our current commitments, we need an additional $23,000. Please continue to collect donations, to send donations, to share this link with friends and family—this crisis is far from being contained. We will continue to work with Bishop Barnett and organizations like Brother’s Brother and the Global Health Organization to assess the needs of the people in Sierra Leone and send all aid we can.
NT-NL Mission Area, in partnership with the IDEA Foundation, has already sent two 40-foot containers of medical supplies to Sierra Leone, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.
As of July 30, the confirmed number of cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia stands at 1,093, including 660 deaths; but there is the strong likelihood of additional unreported cases and deaths.
Bishop Kevin Kanouse is asking all congregations for a special collection of offerings for this need over the next several weeks. 100% percent of gifts given will be dedicated solely toward purchasing medical supplies for Sierra Leone and Liberia. These containers include gloves, gowns, shoe covers, masks, syringes, tubing, and any additional medical equipment that is currently available.
As cities and towns have been put under quarantine to help stop the spread of the disease, food has become scarce in many areas. We have already sent $15,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone to help with the new food crisis; 250 families (each “family” can consist of 10-15 people) will receive a big bag of rice, a gallon of cooking oil, and a half carton of tomato paste, enough to feed them for a month.
The need for food and medical supplies is still great. We are currently working closely with Brother’s Brother Foundation and Global Health Ministries to send not only a third container of medical supplies, but also to a special cleansing agent (similar to chlorine, but more effective, which has been requested by medical staff in the area) to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Please continue to keep the people of West Africa in your prayers, and please consider making a donation (or an additional donation) to this cause.
Donations by check (made out to NT-NL Synod) may be sent to:
The Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod
680 Copper Canyon Rd.
Argyle, TX 76226
Credit card and Paypal donations may be made directly using the Donate button above. If you have further questions, the Mission Office phone number is 940-241-2099.