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Liberian Children Use Coach-Player Relationships to Fight Ebola


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Sister Grace Candiru - published on 12/20/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Under hygiene and sanitation, children are taught practices like washing hands before eating and safe places to go to the bathroom when latrines are not available. These life skills have especially proved providential during the Ebola epidemic.

Then for the coaches who act as mentors there is a period when they have to spend time in the homes of beneficiaries. This helps them to clearly understand the situation children are faced with and in the process they will be able to advise both children and parents on how to build a better relationship.

Additionally, at every practice section, coaches share with the children from the Bible. This gives the children the opportunity to encounter Christ for themselves.

Thus, for the seven years that Life And Change Experienced thru Sports program has been in operation, the organization has been able to mentor over 900 children, both boys and girls, among them former child soldiers and street children. It has also trained 114 coaches and employed 14 staffers coming from different parts of Liberia.

Moreover, L.A.C.E.S. has been able to reconcile children who live on the streets with their families. In some cases they have helped children find foster care from among church members in the communities they live.

And one most important finding, according to the organization, is that they are able to prove through independent research that children in their program address conflict in a non-violent manner after only being in the program for just six months. 

Besides educating the kids on the signs and symptoms of Ebola and how it is spread and prevented, the organization was able to distribute personal protective equipment to over 3,000 people. Thus armed, both staff and children went out for door to door counseling for parents and children in the program. According to the organization, to date not a single case of Ebola has been reported in any of the communities where they work.

As the spread of Ebola continued to worsen in the country, the Liberian government employed several means to stop the spread of the epidemic, including declaring a state of emergency and quarantines of villages and in some cases counties. To counter the effect this had on food prices, L.A.C.E.S. had a feeding program for children.

Despite the challenges LACES has registered, the organization still views the challenges the children face as their own. "Our mission is to develop the future of Liberia, and address the barriers that our children face from reaching their full potential—not something that can be remedied overnight," the organization says. "Some children in our program do not attend school, or do not have a family structure. Assessing the needs of the individual child and helping fill those needs is what makes us to have an impact, which helps us build the future of Liberia."

Sister Grace Candiru
of the Missionary Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church, 
writes from Kampala, Uganda.

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