Saving Lives From the Pulpit

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World Vision enlists and trains pastors and imams in Sierra Leone to promote Ebola prevention.

World Vision enlists and trains pastors and imams in Sierra Leone to promote Ebola prevention.

In an extraordinary show of cooperation, pastors and imams are speaking to each other’s congregations in Sierra Leone to teach people how to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

Trained, equipped, and encouraged by World Vision through its Channels of Hope program, they are using their “prophetic voice and high level of influence,” says Mattia Koi Dimoh, World Vision’s operations director in Sierra Leone. The Channels of Hope initiative is one of World Vision's most effective programs in partnering with local churches and deeply changing communities to care for the most vulnerable. 

“Channels of Hope for Ebola equips faith leaders with messages on prevention and stopping the spread of the disease as well as addressing hopelessness, fear, and stigma in communities,” says Torrey Olsen, the organization’s U.S.-based director for Christian witness.

World Vision plans to train faith leaders in all 12 districts of Sierra Leone as quickly as possible, he said.

“Faith leaders do not only have the influence to change the mindset and behaviors of their congregations but can play a significant role in bringing hope and healing to a highly stressed populace,” Mattia says.

Interfaith cooperation strengthens the faith leaders’ messages. A church member told World Vision staff recently: “I was at a service at our church today when I see a thing which has never happened in the history of our country: an imam came to our church with us and enlightened us about the deadly Ebola viral disease.” 

Besides exchanging pulpits, religious leaders reach out to their peers, provide support to quarantined families, and coordinate with government authorities and the health system.

World Vision recently shipped 200 pallets of donated medical relief supplies — including 4 million pairs of latex gloves — to be used by health workers in Sierra Leone.

World Vision has worked in Sierra Leone for nearly 20 years and has 272 staff in the country.

 

Written by Kathryn Reid

Photo © 2014 Jonathan Bundu / World Vision

 

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