Just Hope sending five ambulances to Sierra Leone

October 21, 2014

Just Hope’s approach to helping others help themselves through economic empowerment is often labeled as “development” as opposed to “relief” or “aid.” In recent years, development efforts were most appropriate for Sierra Leone following the civil war that decimated the country from 1991 to 2002. Development efforts require appropriate working conditions. We look forward to the day development conditions return in Sierra Leone.

For now, the Ebola outbreak is so extraordinary, and the situation so dire, the country has slipped back into crisis mode. Ebola cases are doubling every three to four weeks. Infections from Ebola are projected at 500,000 to 1,500,000 by early 2015. This catastrophic health crisis has worsened Sierra Leone’s existing logistical crisis, which has worsened its existing financial crisis, which has worsened the existing odds of survival, much less development.

We believe in the dignity of life. We believe that suffering is real. We can offer hope for tomorrow. And, we can make a difference now. It is simply unacceptable to do nothing.

Just Hope has learned through one of its existing relationships that a call for assistance came from an infection control expert serving at an Ebola isolation center in a remote area away from the country’s treatment centers: “Immediate need: AMBULANCE SERVICE. We’ve been looking at critical points in the sequence of events for household-transmitted cases… and, ambulance service limitations hold up both initial patient conveyance to holding centers (thereby keeping them at home where they may transmit) and going from holding centers to the treatment units in Kenema and Kailahun (thereby limiting patients’ access to medical care that may help save them).”

In answer, Just Hope International will be participating in a joint venture to provide ambulance service to Ebola isolation and treatment centers. This service will provide needed relief of a logistical bottleneck in the fight against Ebola. Resources to transport patients, blood samples and deceased persons are woefully lacking. It is one thing to provide necessary care. It is another to provide an opportunity for care.

Just Hope has purchased five Toyota ambulances, with an anticipated delivery date of December 9. Our partner will manage day-to-day operation of the ambulance service to include driver training, fuel and maintenance, and liability for the service. This will be a privatized operation in coordination with expatriate outbreak specialists on the ground and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health. Just Hope will retain authority with regard to future liquidation of the vehicles. The ambulances are equipped for the terrain in Sierra Leone. They will have a light, siren, sealed partition between the cab and rear compartment, benches lining the rear compartment, and a wipe-clean interior.

If you watched the PBS FRONTLINE special a few weeks ago, you may recall that in all of the district of Kenema, there was one ambulance. In our dialogue with the vehicle distributor we learned of existing orders from the global agencies we all read about in the news. The orders exceed 250 units in total, fifty percent of which are ambulances. Of these orders for this one distributor, all units are scheduled for delivery in Guinea and Liberia. Our order of five ambulances was the only current or prior order for Sierra Leone.

Above any and all efforts we pursue in this fight against Ebola, we must pray.