A local non-governmental organization, Focus 1000, is supporting religious leaders to educate their congregations about Ebola, relating to Biblical and Quranic scriptures, in a way of intensifying the Ebola fight in the country.
Two religious groups, Islamic Action Group (ISLAG) and Christian Action Group (CHRISTAG) in partnership with FOCUS 1000 are using the pulpit to reach out to their followers who make up the bulk of the country’s population. The organizations with support from Focus 1000, have mobilized themselves to complement Government’s efforts to eradicate the Ebola virus disease which has plagued the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of Focus 1000, Alhaji Dr. Mohamed Bailoh Jalloh, said his organization recognizes the influence of religious leaders in communities in Sierra Leone.
“Therefore Focus 1000 believes their active participation in the fight to stop families from keeping the sick at home, washing and shrouding the dead,” he said.
ISLAG, led by the National Coordinator, Sheikh Abubakarr Conteh, told worshipers at the Fullah Central Mosque at Magazine Cut in Freetown congregational prayer that Ebola is a highly contagious disease that can be contracted by merely touching an Ebola patient or a corpse. He called on Muslims to refrain from handshaking at the moment. With evidence from the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), which is otherwise known as the Hadith, the preacher’s Ebola message was tailored to match educational information designed by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
Since the outbreak, the Ministry of Health has emphasized on referring the sick to the experts and avoiding washing or shrouding corpses. This is what Focus 1000 continues to amplify through the religious leaders whose influence cannot be underestimated. Religious leaders believe that the fight against Ebola, like any other catastrophe that befalls a nation, also needs divine intervention. The imam of the Fullah Central Mosque, Alhaji Amadu Barrie, led the congregation to seek Allah’s intervention.
CHRISTAG has also embarked on a similar venture by reaching out to churches. At the Congregational Evangelical Mission Church, Kingtom, Rev. Christiana Sutton Koroma, who is the National Coordinator for CHRISTAG, provided Biblical evidence for the adherence to regulations set by Government as control measures to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.
The preacher reminded worshippers that the messages designed by experts do not contradict the dictates of the Bible. She highlighted verses from the scripture that deal with change of attitude in health crisis bordering on personal hygiene, quarantining, taking the sick to the health facility and calling Ebola hotlines for Ebola related cases.
Rev. Sutton Koroma said in a crisis like Ebola, preparing the dead is strictly the work of the burial team and not family members. ISLAG and CHRISTAG have been advocating for safe and decent burials. Dr. Abu Pratt, the programme director for FOCUS 1000, said that to a greater extent they are satisfied with the recent Government burial policy, which now permits few family members to witness the burials of their loved ones from a distance of five metres from the grave. It also makes provision for prayers to be offered for corpses in a safe manner.
According to Dr. Pratt, ISLAG and CHRISTAG will be undertaking a nationwide tour to reach out to members of the wider Muslim and Christian communities in the country following the ongoing training of imams and pastors in the Western Area.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.