March 13, 2020

An Interesting Report During the Ebola Outbreak of 2014 in Sierra Leone

On August 14, 2014 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1975 cases of Ebola had been reported and 1069 people had died from the disease. In Sierra Leone, there were 783 cases of Ebola and 334 fatalities.

Ebola is not transmitted by air, but rather through bodily fluids like blood and saliva. The virus is also not transmitted through water or food, but it can remain on objects, such as needles or even clothing, for an extended period of time after the infected person comes in contact with that object. There was no known cure for Ebola (other than experimental drugs) and no inoculation against the disease. The death rate for those infected with the Ebola virus can be as high as 90%.

Interviewed from his residence in Freetown on August 14, 2014 the Orthodox Missionary Priest Father Themi Adamopoulos, who runs an apostolic mission in Sierra Leone, said, “This is the worst period of the crisis. I’m hoping that within a few weeks the epidemic will be lessened, but right now we are in the worst part of the storm. Nurses and doctors have run away from the hospitals. There are very few clinics you can go to now and seek any type of medical treatment unless you have a large amount of money.

Everyone is scared of everybody else. If anyone complains that they have a headache or a fever… boom, they’re finished. They are completely shunned and isolated. As for the rest of us, we are doing our best to control the situation. The government has quarantined effected areas, movement has been restricted. There is a national curfew – after 7pm no one is allowed on the streets.

Daily life has become very difficult. Everyone has to wear gloves and wash their hands in chlorine water. You’re never sure if the person you’re talking to has the virus but isn’t showing any symptoms yet. The country has ground to a standstill. Crowds are not allowed to gather. It’s like a war situation."

Despite the pleas from many of his friends and supporters urging him to leave Sierra Leone and seek safety in Australia, Father Themi stayed on saying, “Our Lord Jesus has taught that the shepherd of the flock does not run away when danger or an enemy approaches but remains to protect the sheep. The hireling runs away. ‘But he that is a hireling and not the shepherd … seeing the wolf coming leaves the sheep and flees…. The hireling flees because he cares not for the sheep.' (John 10:12-13). I am not a hireling!

Consequently since the next 30 to 60 days are the most crucial in this current Ebola crisis my natural place for the next few months, or as long as the emergency period remains, is here in Sierra Leone.”

The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity in January 2015 issued an interesting report on the major news stories of 2014 in Orthodox missions, and this is what they reported about July 2014 six months later:

July was marked by the tremendous Ebola virus outbreak across West Africa. The Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone, led by Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos, stood by the people, distributing food and means of protection from the virus, providing prevention education and bringing divine consolation to the believers’ souls. Our Fraternity supported the Sierra Leonese Mission from the very first moment, sending money and humanitarian aid of myriads of euro. Six months later, none of the Orthodox faithful in Sierra Leone has been infected by the virus and all keep fearlessly partaking of the Holy Communion from the same chalice. In January, a second container of food and protection means will be shipped from our warehouse in Philyron, Thessaloniki.