Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In post-Ebola Sierra Leone, aid is needed, but not all is helpful

We have a big problem now with aid,” Nyuma Tommy, Kpondu’s chief, told me. International NGOs, he said, were now visiting the village regularly, “bringing assistance to orphans and survivors, and nothing to all the rest.” Every month, he said, villagers watched as SUVs rumbled in to deposit food parcels at the homes of these chosen few. Were those who had cared for the dying or lost their closest friends not just as deserving? Had everyone here not suffered enough to merit assistance?

It was a complaint I heard again and again across Sierra Leone: international aid organizations, attempting to ease the burden of those who had suffered most from Ebola, were actually making recovery more difficult, breeding suspicion, distrust, and jealousy in tight-knit villages where communal support offered the best chance for physical and psychological recovery from the disease’s traumas.

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