Let’s be ready for Sierra Leone when Sierra Leone is ready for us
September 4, 2014
We remain concerned for our workers and friends in Sierra Leone as they withstand the ongoing Ebola outbreak. We continue to remind workers by way of our in-country leadership of necessary precautions and the importance of seeking medical attention if symptoms occur. We are disappointed with the cancellation of our leadership visit last month, the resulting project delays and the feeling of physical helplessness we generally feel about the situation. British Airways has extended their suspension of flights until December 31, and the World Health Organization is estimating that Ebola cases could top 20,000 in West Africa. However, Ebola has not stopped us from planning for the day we can return. When Sierra Leone is ready for Just Hope, we want to be ready for Sierra Leone.
In addition to keeping our ears open for legitimate ways to help during this current crisis, Just Hope has been hard at work developing project plans. Based on what we learned from our four-month assessment earlier this year, we believe an opportunity exists to make an ‘impact that lasts’ in 1,000 households over the next five years. We believe economic empowerment presents the greatest potential for lasting change, and this is our target. However, we know that until families are able to feed themselves sufficiently, efforts to increase household income are misplaced and arguably futile. Therefore, helping families establish their own household food security is a priority for us early in our plans with an eye on increased household income to follow.
Areas of the world that have been devastated by war and disease rebuild with basic building blocks, and agriculture is foundational to economies. Our efforts will focus on agriculture as the method of empowering people toward household food security and income. We are considering how to address needs and interests expressed to us in the assessment through technical, financial and interpersonal elements. Establishing healthy terms for working with people will be critical to avoid creating long-term dependency on Just Hope.
By the time Ebola has left its mark through death, broken families, and social and economic disruption, some who may have previously embraced development efforts may have critical needs best-suited for short-term aid only. However, we believe there will be as much opportunity, if not more, for Just Hope to work toward empowering families to feed themselves and earn income to better their quality of life. Our role is to pray and be prepared.