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wmfd.com - The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola but the news is not as positive in the country hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, as health officials say about 2,500 people have died in Liberia and many of them left children behind.

Ebola Orphans In Liberia Await Placement

Story By: Larry Stine



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The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. The news is not as positive in the country hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak. Health officials say about 2,500 people have died in Liberia. Many of them left children behind. Life is bleak for the country's new orphans. This is Calculator's favorite doll. It was supposed to be his cousin Esther's but she let him have it. She says she likes it when he's happy. The 10-year-old and his cousin are the last remaining Ebola orphans at the Hawa Massequio Orphanage. Their parents died last month and none of the extended family is willing to claim them. They're too afraid. And they're not the only ones. At the Christ Kingdom Harvest Church in New Georgia, Pastor John Ghartey says a prayer for safe keeping. "If Christ is your convener sickness and diseases cannot destroy you in the name of Jesus," says Pastor Ghartey. This community, like many others, has lost friends and loved ones to the disease. Twenty-one-year-old Hawa's mother, Fienci, sang in the choir here. Fienci died last month, leaving Hawa to care for her four brothers and sisters, and her own one-year-old daughter. "She was laying in the room dead and all the children, the six of them, they were on the porch lying down," says Pastor Ghartey. The congregation was initially afraid. Unwilling to have the children live among them, even after they showed no symptoms of Ebola. But the pastor rallied, preaching, organizing collections, even just holding the children's hands, a rare gesture in these fearful times, that convinced his congregation to care. "Ebola is separating families because when your family has come down with the virus," Pastor Ghartey says. "Nobody wants to touch. Nobody wants to interact." "This virus has impacted much, much greater then the direct number of people immediately impacted," says Sheldon Yett of UNICEF. "For each mother there's a child, for each father there's a child." The United Nation's Children's Fund estimates at least 2,000 children have been orphaned in Liberia. Many go on to be stigmatized by their communities. But some, like Pastor Ghartey, are working to change that. "They come to my house," says Pastor Ghartey. "They sit in my living room with my family. They are like a family to us now." At the orphanage, Calculator and Esther wait for families willing to welcome them homes. If that happens, Calculator says he'll let Esther take the doll, so she doesn't forget him.

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