In November, Sierra Leone was reporting 550 new cases of ebola every week. Today the number has slowed to seven new cases a week. Just a few weeks ago, the schools reopened. But there is still a long road ahead for Sierra Leone, and the brave women of West Africa who have already endured so much. I hope that next spring these tragic times will all be in the past, and Sierra Leone's future will once again look bright.
Oxfam is in Liberia and Sierra Leone for the long haul. We're continuing to work with communities to build understanding of Ebola treatment and how to stay healthy, providing financial support to help families get back on their feet, and helping them guard against infectious diseases by equipping schools and clinics with clean water and sanitation.
Following my visit, I found that the amazing resilience of the local communities, working alongside truly heroic overseas medical staff and aid workers, had left an overwhelming impression on me. It is thanks to each one of them that Ebola has not reached our shores this time around. But, if the immense poverty in countries like Sierra Leone persists then there is no saying when the next outbreak of Ebola - or something equally horrific - will occur.
Kate Gross, my friend and our founding CEO in AGI, died on Christmas day after a two year battle with cancer. Our last conversation was some weeks before, sitting in the November sun in Cambridge. She knew the chemo was coming to an end and we both knew what came next. But that wasn't what we talked about.
I for one, am particularly proud of what my friend has achieved and very excited about what it will mean for the children of Sierra Leone. Sam's work is a vital addition to all of the hard work already going on within the country to provide the next generation with the education they have a right to.
For every one doctor and three nurses working at an Ebola treatment unit there are approximately 26 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) staff... The next time you read an interview with an international doctor or nurse newly returned from their deployment and recounting desperately sad, and now too familiar, stories about the struggle and the suffering please give some thought to the many WASH staff who remain.