Ebola Orphans: How Can We Help?

Ebola OrphansThis week on the TIO Goodreads group, a topic came up that–surprisingly–hadn’t occurred to me. Ebola orphans. With news about the Ebola outbreak unavoidable, I’m not sure why I never made the obvious connection. A young lady asked if there was any way  she could help children orphaned by Ebola besides praying.

Perhaps you’ve been following this closer than I have and already know the plight of Ebola orphans. But in case you don’t, let me explain what I’ve learned from a cursory study of some news articles. (A simple Google search pulled up TONS of articles!)

CNN claims that Ebola has orphaned 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone according to the UNICEF definition that says an orphan is “a child who has lost one or both parents.”

(SIDE NOTE: Before you get totally overwhelmed, it’s important to note that the news is all about sensational stories, and stories about orphans are often blown out of proportion. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but it’s true. The same CNN article also says that Ebola has killed more than 3,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The UN claims the numbers are vastly under-reported, but a claim of 3,700 children orphaned by of 3,000 deaths seems at least a little unlikely to me. Perhaps I’m too skeptical because I’ve read about situations like this being exploited during past disasters. What do you think?)

Whatever the actual numbers, it’s clear that Ebola has affected and created orphans. And to make matters worse, the rapid spread of the virus is making people afraid to care for newly orphaned children. Many news articles quote UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, who said, “Ebola is turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence.”

So how should we respond? To be honest, beyond praying, I’m not sure. But, to be sure, praying is a very good thing to do. Another member of TIO Goodreads group replied to the original question by saying,

Sometimes, I think God allows us to feel helpless so that we’ll pray harder and truly learn to depend on Him, truly realize that we are powerless and humble ourselves before Him. It’s very easy to get busy DOING and to claim that prayer works but not truly believe it wholeheartedly – because prayer IS doing!

She is so right! It’s not easy to latch onto tangible ways to help when not even the “professionals” know what to do. But we can always, always pray. And in praying, we are doing.

Do you know more about how Ebola is affecting and creating orphans? How do you think Christians as a whole and as individuals should respond to this problem? Do you have any further thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on how to help?

Leave a comment


  1. Sarah Phillips

     /  October 4, 2014

    I guess we should respond to these orphans like we would to any others; just because they’re potentially (or actually) sick doesn’t mean we are exempt from caring and advocating for them. If we’re Christians, it shouldn’t matter that we might be bringing “a potential death sentence” on ourselves, because we have no reason to fear death! God calls us to care for orphans, so we need to do that regardless of the consequences. I don’t think I, personally, am called to minister to Ebola orphans, but undoubtedly some people are. We cannot run from our calling because we are afraid of the consequences!

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