Ebola Outbreak

TVL Co-Director's Innovative Software Helps Sierra Leone In Fight Against Ebola

V.L.Directors E.Lewis and R.Rotandaro The Village Link's Co-Director, Evelyn Lewis is a very busy man. When he's not helping TVL, he is working for his other company, SBTS Group - an ICT consulting firm and TrainingSol - a training company and jobs portal. Most recently Evelyn has poured his time, money and resources into helping Sierra Leone fight the Ebola crisis in a more organized way despite the fact that his own business is suffering due to this crisis. He decided he needed to help because he could. Evelyn is just one of many Sierra Leonian entrepreneurs that have seen a major loss in revenue due to Ebola.

After he visited the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), the central coordination center all the agencies giving support, he immediately saw they were in need of help. What he saw was quite alarming given the magnitude of the crisis. There was only one lady, tasked with the job of answering phones and responsible for reporting all ebola cases in the country. This is when he knew that if Sierra Leone was going to battle this virus and have a shot at defeating it, they would have to more organized and better prepared to handle the workload.

Immediately, Evelyn got all of his staff started on writing a new software to coordinate the Ebola effort for the call center  and to make sure it was tailored specific to this effort. The new software is appropriately named the Ebola Operating System (EOS).

As Evelyn describes, "the need for the software was noted as the significant increase in calls contained sensitive operational and time-bound information required by the numerous ebola response teams and to primarily make sure all cases and calls were logged at the initial point of contact coming through the main telephone number 117 and centralize data gathering and sharing." The EOC call center was able to expand it's call center resources from only 16 lines to 62 lines with this new software.

Previously, call agents would handwrite the initial recordings at the beginning of the operations, then enter this data into separate excel spreadsheets causing a backlog of manual entry and delays in reaching out to the respective teams and susceptible to mistakes. This new software provides unified data in a centralized system based on the feedback of field teams.

In addition to building out a customized software, free of charge for all NGO's and the EOC to use, Evelyn and his team were able to provide training for the Ebola efforts and actually hired and trained all 200 employees for the call center, provided credential services for the quarantined areas and vehicle passes etc., to cover about 50,000 persons.  Evelyn and his team also donated short term support completely free to the people of Sierra Leone to help fight this crisis.

It's still an uphill battle they are fight in Sierra Leone but at least they are more organized and able to respond in a more timely manner, thanks to Evelyn and his teams timely response and generous donation. We're so proud of the work he is providing his country!



The Burial Boys of Sierra Leone

For a mere $6 a day these boys are on the front lines, fighting the war against Ebola burying victims safely to help prevent further transmission of this virus. Watch this touching video to better understand what it takes to contain this outbreak and the sacrifices these young men are making for their country.  

Daily Life In Sierra Leone Amidst The Ebola Outbreak

Daily life in Sierra Leone has drastically changed for residents with the growing fear of Ebola and all that comes with this terrible viral invasion. People have had to learn how to operate daily tasks amongst this fear. Running normal everyday errands such as getting groceries, has become a risky activity. For example, in the last few weeks random check points throughout Freetown have been set up to measure body temperatures in an effort to prevent the spread of Ebola. If you're selected to be tested you are first asked to clean your hands. Then, your body temperature is measured with a non-contact laser thermometer that gets a reading from your forehead. If you have a fever, you have no choice. Immediately you are taken into quarantine until it is determined if your fever is from Ebola or not. People are avoiding the hospital and roads even if they are sick due to other illnesses, such as malaria, in fear they will contract Ebola from being near an infected person or seized and taken from their loved ones without notice. These random check points for Ebola symptoms has made moving around the city a risk. Restrictions on traveling throughout the country have been in place some time, affecting the already fragile economy. Worse, borders have been closed preventing commerce. With people staying inside they are unable to go shopping, leaving the countries families and individuals feeling the financial stress of lower incomes.

Despite this bad news and worrisome situation, we are happy to report that as of now Golu has no reported cases of Ebola. What we've learned over the past few months is that education about this virus and how to avoid spreading it, is the most useful tool in prevention. The residents of Golu have been well educated on how to prevent the spreading of Ebola and have been exercising these precautions to keep their community safe. Though it is good news to hear Golu has no Ebola cases, they too have fallen victim to the other challenges that come out of preventative care and country wide travel restrictions.

In Golu, one of the primary sources of income and resources is going to the weekly market in the nearby junction town, Gerehun and  to the closest city, Bo, to buy and sell goods and food products. Gerehun has no reported cases of Ebola but a nearby village, Jebehun, has one confirmed case. Bo now has 31 confirmed cases of Ebola so this has scared many Golu residents from making the trek to Bo's market. Unfortunately, fear as well as the prevention and quarantine practices are leaving this small community with fewer resources and income. In addition to this, it's rainy season so the community resource center's main source of revenue - cell phone charging stations - are moderately being used due to lower solar power reserves and financial difficulties making communication in and out of the village difficult.

Overall throughout the country everyone is feeling the affects of this terrible virus and all the other issues and challenges that come along with it. This country has been through so much and somehow the people of Sierra Leone are able to remain positive and have proven to the world time and time again that they are resilient when faced with challenges that would most likely devastate many other countries. We know that Sierra Leone will bounce back from these hard times and pick up where they left off. The Village Link remains committed to helping the countries underrepresented communities to gain self-sufficiency once again.

Below are the current facts and figures for Sierra Leone according to the CDC and WHO, along with a couple interesting videos on the virus.

  • The Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone and WHO reported a cumulative total of 1026 suspect and confirmed cases, including 935 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 422 deaths.

  • Cases have been confirmed in 11 of 12 Sierra Leone districts.


2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Outbreak DistributionMap

Ebola Outbreak Map (CDC)