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LDS Church provides food, other aid to members in Ebola areas

A Latter-day Saint family stand next to food and supplies delivered by LDS Charities during Ebola-virus outbreak.
A Latter-day Saint family stand next to food and supplies delivered by LDS Charities during Ebola-virus outbreak.
Mormon Newsroom

SALT LAKE CITY — When the Ebola outbreak that has now killed nearly 5,000 people led Sierra Leone to declare a three-day national quarantine last month, many parents weren't sure how they'd feed their children.

Then food and other emergency supplies for 2,500 Mormon families arrived from LDS Charities.

“I am a mother of two children and was engaged in petty trading to maintain my children ... before the crisis,” a Mormon woman in Makeni said. “The Ebola crisis has brought unemployment to most of us ... (and) all the money I had got finished. ... I had nothing to upkeep my children. The support received from the church today has brought joy and confidence in my family and we are grateful to God.”

At least two Mormons have died in West Africa during the outbreak.

Nearly 7,800 families in Sierra Leone received emergency supplies from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the state of emergency last month.

Those relief efforts are continuing. The church now has provided some members with a two-month supply of food, including rice and cooking oil, and many have shared it with family and friends, according to an update published on a church website this week.

The church has also sent hygiene and sanitation supplies, chlorine and basic instruction materials to its members in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone and Liberia, and it is providing medical clothing and supplies to a hospital in Sierra Leone that is caring for Ebola patients.

The safety of LDS missionaries in the region is also a priority, the church release said.

The church evacuated 274 missionaries from Sierra Leone and Liberia in early August, reassigning them to other nations.

At that time, there had been 932 Ebola deaths in West Africa. The virus now has killed 4,922 people.

Though no missionaries remain in Sierra Leone and Liberia, mission presidents in areas where there is heightened potential for cases of Ebola are training missionaries what precautions they should take to avoid and prevent the spread of the virus. The news release said church and mission leaders and local members continue to monitor circumstances and, "when necessary, will take steps to further protect missionaries from areas where their safety is in question."

Meanwhile, church members continue to worship, even when they cannot meet as a congregation.

Mormons in Ghana held sacrament meetings in their homes last month during a national stay-at-home lockdown.

“It was a spiritual reflection meeting ... with 22 of us, including two members of other faiths,” said President Sahr E. Fomba, leader of the Kissy Second Branch, according to a church release. “What a spiritual moment this is!”