Hi Louis and Friends of the Mission in Sierra Leone
The blessings of Christ be with you.
For over a year now I remained in Sierra Leone without departing temporarily for the usual fund raising events in Australia or Greece – I have almost forgotten what it is like to live in a rich country. The reason for this has been the deadly Ebola outbreak that has afflicted West Africa since April of 2014. I cancelled all my overseas obligations in order to remain with the flock that the Lord has entrusted me. With the grace of God I can say that all my humble efforts to prevent the incurable virus from striking any of the Mission’s flock did not go in vain. With constant instructions on preventative measures together with the distribution of gloves, chlorine, face masks, antiseptic gels etc. no Orthodox Christian in Sierra Leone was affected by the virus. Thanks be to God!
Now the epidemic has diminished quite dramatically throughout most of Sierra Leone, Schools will soon open and life is almost beginning to go back to normal. While the virus has not completely disappeared from this region we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The days of national lockdowns are over. Thanks be to God!
However what we now face are the devastating social, economic and psychological scars which Ebola has brought upon us. One such challenge facing Sierra Leone is the phenomenon of Ebola orphans. These are children whose parents have died from Ebola and are now living in very poor circumstances.
Given therefore that we are now heading gradually towards a post-Ebola situation, I have decided to accept an invitation from a Greek Orthodox Church in New York (USA) to give a series of talks over a three day period in late March in a spiritual retreat organized for the Archdiocese Archons of America. However I will be leaving earlier (today – February 25th) in order to comply with the US twenty one day quarantine policy. Among other issues I intend there to be able to draw attention to the need for an Ebola Children’s Orphanage. I have the full backing of the Sierra Leone government in this project. The Minister of Social Welfare has even recommended to our Mission a particular town for this orphanage.
I ask for all y our prayers that this visit to the USA will prove successful in providing assistance to the needs of Ebola children here as well as other urgent philanthropic, health and educational requirements.
I wish to thank P4K / Australia and P4K / USA for organizing three containers of rice from Vietnam. We have received them and we have started distributing them. Indeed this morning just before I go to airport we will be offering the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. E. Koroma, one of the containers with a recommendation that it be used as food supply for one of the few remaining Ebola quarantine areas.
I wish you all a blessed and Holy Lent / Sarakosti