Rev. Istifanus Bahago from Nigeria visits Smithers last week to thank those who helped the effort to combat ebola in Sierra Leone

Smithers church helps people in ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

Rev. Istifanus Bahago of Nigeria was working with the Christian Reformed Church in Sierra Leone last March when ebola struck.

It has been one year since the first confirmed case of ebola in an outbreak that has since killed over 10,000 people in west Africa.

Rev. Istifanus Bahago of Nigeria was working with the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Sierra Leone last March when the deadly disease struck. He assumed leadership of program development there in 2013.

As the disease quickly spread and people evacuated the region, Bahago and other missionaries stayed to help contain the virus.

Bahago was in Smithers last week to thank people here who sent funds to help battle the infection and to seek support for the work that still needs to be done.

We had this outbreak and cried out. Smithers’ church was one of the first CRC churches in B.C. to send financial support so we could go into this community to sensitize it.

And that has really helped because the district where we are working, because of this sensitization, has one of the lowest infection rates in the whole country,” said Bahago.

Of the thousands who died and thousands more who were infected, Bahago said the total number infected in the region of Sierra Leone where the missionaries were working was 108.

Doctors Without Borders just released a report that said thousands of deaths from ebola were preventable, and that it was the slow international and internal response that made things worse.

There was a lot of fear in the villages: ‘what is this, is this a plague?’ So the lack of understanding of it played a big part in complicating the spread of it,” explained Smithers Christian Reformed Church elder Dave Mayer, who was in Sierra Leone last year but coincidently left just before the outbreak.

Bahago credits quick action on educating the local population of what was happening with saving lives.

This came because of the support we got from Smithers where we were able to go into the community immediately and tell them ‘look, this virus is real, this virus kills, you have to avoid certain things: eating bush meat, body contact, you have to avoid all this’,” said Bahago.

As the spread of infection has slowed, there is a new battle to fight in west Africa.

We are working [against] stigmatization,” said Bahago.

The reverend made a few stops during his three-week visit to Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver, as well as Terrace and Smithers.

First I came to thank the people… for their help… and also to create the awareness for others who have not participated,” said Bahago.

There is need for continued support, so that the support we are giving can be sustained.”

The Smithers church is also helping to do other work in Sierra Leone.

We developed in conjunction with the Christian Reformed Church of North America what we describe as a holistic, fully integrated assistance program that includes building churches, helping to develop church leaders, helping with heath care, education, environmental protection, drilling wells for water, income assistance, and agriculture,” said Mayer.

The mission is also helping to build schools and an economy as it preaches its Christian beliefs in the region.

The Smithers church is helping to build a school in the village of Nanfayie. I supervise it to make sure the resources that come in are accounted for and are used for the purpose it was sent,” explained Bahago.

Donations can be made to the Christian Reformed Church at crcna.ca.

Donations to help areas struck by ebola can also be made at redcross.ca/ebola and to Doctors Without Borders at msf.ca.

Bahago did manage to find time to enjoy his visit to Canada with some recreation. It was the first time he had seen snow, so while in the Bulkley Valley he tried snowshoeing.

I did okay,” smiled Bahago.

 

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

Smithers Christmas Bird Count

Time to register for the annual bird count, an effort done across the hemisphere.

They’re engaged!

Birthday party turns into engagement party for Doug and Matilda

Hampers a chance to help in the Christmas spirit

SCSA sends around 350-400 hampers to the area from Witset to Telkwa.

Volunteers create Christmas magic at Santa’s Breakfast

PHOTOS: For the past 19 years, a local event helped remind us that Christmas is a time of giving.

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Most Read