UN Staff in Belarus Helps to Give Ebola Orphans a Happy Christmas

UN staff in Belarus joined with UNDP Liberia to raise money to hold fourteen Christmas parties for children orphaned by ebola in the hardest hit areas of Liberia. Resident Coordinator for the UN in Belarus, Sanaka Samarasinha, was recently in Liberia to help with the ebola response, and during his visit he met hundreds of orphaned children. Resident Coordinator for the UN in Belarus, Sanaka Samarasinha, was recently in Liberia to help with the ebola response, and during his visit he met hundreds of orphaned children.

UN staff in Belarus joined with UNDP Liberia to raise money to hold fourteen Christmas parties for children orphaned by ebola in the hardest hit areas of Liberia.

Resident Coordinator for the UN in Belarus, Sanaka Samarasinha, was recently in Liberia to help with the ebola response, and during his visit he met hundreds of orphaned children.

“What has happened to these kids is tragic. Some of the children survived ebola but lost their families” he said.

“When the opportunity to help give these kids a happy Christmas came up, our staff and I were only too happy to help.”

Victor Faiyah runs a local NGO called the Department of Children and Families, and developed the idea after seeing how children were suffering in Westpoint and other communities. Along with thousands of volunteers he coordinated the project.

“The whole community is suffering – people have gone months without an income and they're trying to cope with the loss of their loved ones,” he said. “The children who have lost their parents are suffering from grief, and for many it's a struggle to survive on their own.”

“At DCF we didn't want these children to spend Christmas thinking about what they've gone through. It should be a happy day. The UN and NGO staff have been so supportive in making this happen.”

Abraham lost both his parents to ebola, and now he lives with relatives. He said that it was great to celebrate Christmas with all his friends from the community.

"It's been hard since my parents died, and some of my friends also lost their parents. I hope that after Christmas we can go back to school.”

Sarafina Davis' sister died leaving three children behind. She's taken them in, but says it's hard to support them.

“I love the children, they're smart, they're great. But it's a struggle – I'm alone and my income is very low. We do need some help here in Westpoint.”

UN Staff in Liberia, New York, Belarus and Turkey, as well as other organizations contributed funds, along with individuals donations from around the world, in order to provide lunch, drinks, presents and entertainment for thousands of children. Two parties were held on Christmas Eve, along with twelve on Christmas Day.

Each child got a special lunch of rice, chicken, popcorn, juice and biscuits, as well as small toys. They danced to Christmas carols, competed in sack races and 'lime and spoon' races, and were inspired by local film star Frank Artus.

More photos are available here.

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