One of Sunday morning's headlines in the NY Times was "Ebola's Cultural Casualty: Hugs in Hands-on Liberia."
As a parent and a child advocate I cannot imagine the position so many parents have been put in due to this deadly outbreak. The author of this article, Helene Cooper, puts it this way:
...imagine trying not to touch your 2-year-old daughter when she is feverish, vomiting blood and in pain.
Unfortunately, this is a scene being played out all over the affected area of West Africa, because, as the reporter points out, "Ebola is spread through bodily fluids: vomit, blood, feces, tears, saliva and sweat. Close contact has become taboo."
As I wrote just a few days ago, this epidemic is desperately difficult on children and their care givers. Whilst adults can understand why care givers cannot or will not touch them, children cannot understand this, which only adds to their isolation, pain, suffering and, inevitably, death... if they are not treated.
Although there is not a great deal we can do from more than 5,000 miles away, there are now people on the ground providing assistance.
World of Children Award Honorees Dr. Mark Manary (2007) and Luke Hingson (2002) are among those offering aid. Dr. Manary is providing urgently needed dietary supplements for the children so that they have some hope of surviving the ravages of the disease. Mr. Hingson is providing essential protective gear so that care givers can actually touch, hold and care for children.
You can help them by visiting www.worldofchildren.org/ebola.
The sadness of this epidemic can be felt in this quote from the NY Times article from a desperate parent, "'Na mind, baby,' Ms. Diggs whispered in her baby's ear. 'I beg you, na mind.'"