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  • Neelley Hicks

 The Church Raises Ebola Awareness via SMS

By Philippe LOLONGA October 10/3/2018/Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo

In 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo experienced two episodes of the Ebola virus disease: first in early May in the health zones of  Bikoro, Iboko and Mbandaka in the Equateur Province, (in the northern part of the country); then at the beginning of August in the Beni region, in the North Kivu Province (Eastern DRC), with the extension in Ituri (Northeast).

Since August, the Ebola virus has been present in Beni. The United Methodist Church has more than seven thousand members (men, women, youth) in this part of the country.

The Congolese Government, with partners such as WHO, MSF and others, is stepping up its efforts to curb the spread of this disease, which has already killed more than 40 people in this part of the country since its inception.

The United Methodist Church as a partner also of the Congolese Government has not sat idly by. Bishop Gabriel Unda, who is the Bishop of the Eastern Congo Episcopal Region, is working to educate the surrounding communities on the fight against this disease.

Bishop Unda encouraged the people of Beni and the surrounding area by saying in a text message: “We join our voice to that of all other physical and moral persons of good will who, today, express their deep feelings of sympathy and condolences to families suffering loss of life because of the Ebola virus in this part of the East Congo.”

An additional grant is given in Goma for SMS in Beni. 9/3/2018

With the support of Harper Hill Global, the United Methodist Church (via the messaging system UMConnect) raises awareness in the Eastern part of the country by sending messages on the fight against this disease, comfort and peace. It should be noted that on August 1, 2018, there were killings of the population by armed men (ADF rebels) who attacked the populations in this zone where the Ebola virus is raging, which even provoked the cessation of intervention of some partners like WHO in the management of the Ebola cases in Beni.

According to the DS of Beni Rev. Ezechiel Mathe: “We are very concerned about this situation because in Ndindi where the Ebola disease has occurred, we have more than five local churches and have already lost more than five members of the United Methodist Church.

Mathe adds that “we continue to work day and night with our congregation on raising awareness of this Ebola Virus disease in our district. We have already put sanitary devices in every local church, so the faithful wash up hands before entering the church.”

The Rev. Kasereka Tatwa, pastor of Beni Jerusalem Local Church, says: “The message that I receive every day from our Bishop on the fight against the Ebola virus disease I share with my congregation and this contributes in the fight against this virus with Ebola disease, because they say my people sometimes dies for lack of knowledge.”

Mother Meta Sakina, president of the women of the local church of Ndindi in Beni, testifies: “We lost our leader of Laity in our local church, Mr Kambale Musilamu, because of this virus disease, who left eight children and a widow.”  Meta adds that “We have fled our homes because of this illness, but through messages of comfort, peace and the fight against the Ebola that we receive from our bishop Gabriel Unda and our pastors, we have started to [re]join our living environments gradually.”

The Health Coordinator in East Congo Dr. Damas Lushima says: “We thank Harper Hill Global for its support in raising awareness in the eastern part of the country against the Ebola virus disease and we will put everything to work for curb the spread in the annual conference of Kivu and Equato Oriental.”

Philippe Lolonga is Correspondent of Harper Hill Global in Kivu.

Since May 2018, Harper Hill Global has provided over $2,000 in grants that distribute Ebola prevention messages through television, radio, text messaging and WhatsApp delivery. Help us increase access to lifesaving information.Give now. Read more.

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Harper Hill Global 4838 Old Hickory Boulevard Nashville, Tennessee 37218

Harper Hill Global is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literacy or educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Harper Hill Global empowers the human spirit through media, messaging and mobile solutions aimed at improving lives and relieving human suffering.

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