AS DEATHS from the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) passed 1,000 in early May, churches are playing a vital role in counteracting the virus.
The outbreak, which began in August 2018, is the second deadliest in history. The World Health Organisation says mistrust and violence are hampering the battle against the disease.
But Premier reports that many Congolese are hearing about prevention methods through churches.
Tearfund’s programme director in the DRC, Hebdavi Muhindo, says: “The Church is playing a very crucial role… and Tearfund is working with a church in eastern DRC to sensitise the community.
“Just say ‘hi’ with your voice”
“One of the main ways to stop this virus is by taking hygiene measures, washing your hands as well as avoiding body contact, and changing some social norms – not greeting each other with the hand – just saying ‘Hi’ with your voice. The Church is [also] doing a lot of psychosocial support to the people who are affected by the virus.
“And while people have lost faith in other institutions… people still trust their faith leaders and that’s how the work that Tearfund is doing, together with the local churches, is really helping to stop the spread of the disease.”
The Salvation Army has also been training thousands of community leaders in hygiene practices in Goma, in the far east of the country. The project promotes rigorous handwashing, awareness and knowledge of the condition, and aims to reduce the stigma associated with the virus.