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Broadcasting hope amids the panic of Ebola

One radio programme is providing a voice of practical help, hope and information amidst the spreading ebola virus in sub-Saharan Africa ...

You wake up to find your entire community is on fire, spreading faster than anyone can escape. It flares up in every direction. Panic takes over. People don’t know where to go. Soon, the catastrophe is out of control.

A part of the world is “burning” right now, but the flame isn’t fire, it’s Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind. With a 90% mortality rate in some areas, the disease is spreading through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia faster than medical professionals can keep up.

In many cases, those infected refuse to visit clinics because they’re perceived as places where people go to die. As result, by the time they receive treatment, their fate is sealed.

Lee Sonius, executive director of Reach Beyond’s Sub-Saharan Africa Region, grew up in Liberia. He knows firsthand the impact of war, poverty and disease on the people he loves and the place he calls home.

“I first heard about Ebola when I was growing up in Africa,” he recalls. “It struck fear in my heart then. And it filled me with fear again when it reappeared this year.”

Worse yet, the disease has attacked parts of the world where Christ is not widely known, leaving the people without spiritual hope. But amid the “fire” there is hope – practical hope to prevent getting the disease while stemming its spread. And there’s spiritual hope by sharing Christ’s love with victims.

Reach Beyond in the UK has produced five Ebola emergency response programmes as part of the Calls to My Sister radio series. The programmes air throughout the region on national and local radio stations, educating people on how to avoid contact with Ebola, practice extreme personal hygiene and remain safe.

The writer of the programmes is Mary Kolu Massaquoi, a native Liberian who is also a retired nurse and midwife. Her first series of Calls to my Sister is currently being broadcast on community radio stations across Sub Saharan Africa, offering useful advice on topics such as hygiene, nutrition and breastfeeding.

But when Mary Kolu heard about the Ebola outbreak, she felt strongly that she needed to create a new set of emergency programmes tackling Ebola and underlining the World Health Organisation’s guidance on this deadly disease.

“We praise God for the privilege of serving Him in this way in order to save lives for His glory,” exclaimed Nick Mangeolles, who is working with Mary Kolu on the production of the series. “We’ve had an extremely positive and thankful response from the stations.”

One radio station worker in River Cess, Liberia, commented, “When the County health team conducted a test hearing of the Ebola programmes, it was wonderful to see their reaction:  ‘This is it! This is exactly what we need!’”

The Reach Beyond UK radio team is based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and it’s from there that the programmes are written and recorded. The audio is then distributed to the radio stations via the Reach Beyond office in Accra, Ghana. The Ebola series will soon also be available in French and Portuguese.

Ebola was named after the Ebola River in Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease was first identified in 1976. As of September 1 more than 3,000 people had been infected. The death toll is 1,552 and rising daily.
 
Pictured above: Mary Kolu Massaquoi at the microphone

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