The outreach teams are beginning their next round of visits to the surrounding villages, thanks to some recent donors. They will re-emphasize vigilance, add more education on basic hygiene such as hand-washing, and talk about the importance of not stigmatizing those who have survived. The point at which Ebola truly begins to wane will be one of the most dangerous times for them, as travel restrictions are loosened and people begin to move about the country more. It will be very easy for one infected person to start a whole new round of cases in a new area, so added vigilance will be essential. One of Fodei's insights for these visits was the importance of bringing something concrete to share with the villagers, to set the right tone from the beginning: we are here to help you, not to get something from you. Last time it was rice; this time it will be soap. This will dovetail with the emphasis on hand-washing.
It is now dry season, and all 8 of the villages building houses this year, including new additions Giewahun and Jombohun, are making bricks (mud blocks) in preparation for construction. Fodei has purchased a large supply of metal roofing to save money, since it becomes more expensive as building season progresses. The building that was being used to store all the materials in Gbeworbu was suddenly needed by the town for other purposes, though, so Fodei coordinated the quick construction of a new building-materials storehouse, to be roofed last week.
Munir has proposed adding an animal husbandry project this year. This would involve buying a few goats, building a shelter for them, and enclosing a small area with barbed wire. It would be located in the palm grove, where they could roam free during the day and help keep the grass and underbrush under control. He is researching the associated costs. Goats are used at times in the village for meat when there is an occasion that calls for a sacrifice. The nanny goats might be milked; that's not clear yet.
Closer to home, on Monday we had a great time meeting with the Elders for Peace group at Carol Woods Retirement Community to tell them about the village and the work being done there. They were extremely warm and welcoming, and had many excellent questions. What a dynamic bunch! Former state Senator Ellie Kinnaird introduced us and added her insights along the way. Daughter Anna (10 yrs.) joined Braima and me for the presentation, and kicked it off with her own thoughts on the organization and what it does. Braima was, as always, a charismatic and effective communicator. Anna modeled one of her African dresses. It was a very satisfying and worthwhile endeavor, our first presentation to an outside group. We learned plenty for next time, too.