Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia. Nations that rarely appear in western newspapers were associated over the last months to ebola. These countries in fact are those that have been most struck by what has been defined as the most serious outbreak of the viral outbreak since its discovery in 1976.
«After the unending suffering due to the war, we are now again being put to the test with this ebola outbreak. There is a growing fear, but also the awareness that by taking the necessary measures – at times going against the nature and culture of the population, like staying in isolation – we can fight this virus. Everywhere the Church is trying to bring its help, as a sign of concrete love to all,” they wrote us from Sierra Leone. The suffering these days is the acuteness of the quarantine the population is asked to comply with: staying at home to stem the risk of contamination. According to the World Health Organisation (report of 18 September) out of over 5,000 cases, more than 2,600 were victims of the virus that causes hemorrhagic fever.
«They say we have to be prudent – a religious close to the Focolari said in June – at Mass we don’t even give each other the sign of peace to avoid contacts, but it is difficult to say precisely where the danger lies. Even we in the Catholic hospital had a suspected case who escaped from the hospital specialised in ebola at Kenema, and who came here to be treated without our doctors being informed. You can therefore imagine the anxiety in all of us.
Also the meetings of the Focolare community have to be suspended, as also the activities programmed with the youth. We have started a chain of mutual support: phone calls, messages. To say what? “To stress our firm will to continue loving, and now we all have to bear the test once again.”
In a letter to the members of the Focolari Movement in Sierra Leone, the President, Maria Voce, wrote to encourage all «to go ahead with courage, to bear witness to the Ideal of unity in all ways possible» and to thank them for their example «which is generating in your land many signs of brotherhood». She also ensured furthermore, of the support and prayers of the Movement throughout the world.
«Personally, I try to remain faithful to the commitment and promise to continue living the Ideal of unity also here in Sierra Leone», J.K. confided, on expressing also her pain in having to suspend all the contacts, but also that she is finding support in the Word of Life, the commitment to live the Gospel that brings light even in the most desperate situations, like this.
E Alfred wrote: «As you know, the situation here in Sierra Leone is bad. It is difficult for us not to be able to go out. But this will not stop me, but rather, it urges me to live the Gospel more. I am trying to live every moment for Jesus, offering all to Him during the day. To be faithful to the Gospel is still my deepest desire. Thank you for all the love you have for us Gen in Sierra Leone. We feel that you are here with us. ».
To conclude, Fr. Carlo, is thanking everyone for taking to heart also “this corner of the world,” when it seems that all around us “fear, anxiety, inactivity and at times disappointment that the authorities are so slow in helping the people” seems to take the upper hand. But slowly we are discovering that all these aspects are the image of Jesus crucified and abandoned and it is then that we start again to love. And this love seems to be newer and deeper. »