In an ideal world this blog post would have originated from a tropical beach in Sierra Leone telling you a nice story about the Surfing Salone adventure. The adventure is still there, but unfortunately we have to inform you that the Surfing Salone crew is not shooting the documentary in Sierra Leone right now. The rapidly growing Ebola outbreak is obviously the reason. Of course we are very sad that we have to postpone our plans again, but our hearts and minds are with the people in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The fear of contagion
The West African countries are facing a new challenge that is way bigger than ‘just’ the disease. The lives lost through the disease are very tragic, but the side effects may not be underestimated. The fear of contagion has a huge impact. The World Bank forecasts extreme losses in GDP and financial growth, schools are closed since two months, hospitals are closed and people suffering from more common diseases like malaria and typhoid can’t be treated, people working with international companies are jobless at home because the companies have stopped their activities. And these are just a few examples of a very long list.
Questions rise why the world has neglected the Ebola outbreak for a long time. The first case was probably a toddler boy in December 2013 and in March 2014 the WHO and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) proclaimed an outbreak. From March to June a total of 544 confirmed cases and 291 deaths have been reported from Guinee, Liberia and Sierra Leone. On September 14 the CDC (US Centre for Disease Control) reports a total of 5347 cases, 2630 deaths and 3095 laboratory confirmed cases in the West African region with 39% and 52% of the cases confirmed for respectively Sierra Leone and Liberia during the last three weeks. And the true numbers are probably much higher.
With the current reproduction numbers in the affected countries Wired calls an additional 77,181 to 277,124 cases by the end of 2014 jaw dropping. We all know exponential math. Stopping the outbreak has become far more difficult and costly than six months ago.
Only recently Obama has declared to send 3,000 US soldiers to the region. Cuba sends 165 health care professionals to Sierra Leone and China adds her total to 175 aid workers (interesting countries, right?). More money is becoming available and regional organizations are setting up actions to raise funds. Slowly the world is awaking, but will it be enough?
Personally I believe the global measurement taken to fight Ebola are in a shrill contrast to, for example, the planned measurements against IS. I can’t look into the future, but, with current medical capabilities, to control a disease in a relatively early stage seems more feasible than trying to dissolve thousands of years religious misinterpretations with bombs.
Please support the people of West Africa wherever and whenever you can. They are, like you and me, beautiful people and need their positive stories. Making Surfing Salone reality is a big dream coming true, but there are bigger things in life. Hold your breath for a moment and think of those who are in uncomfortable positions around the world. Continue breathing and send them some positive vibes.
Floris Loeff and the Surfing Salone Crew
Ps. If you do like to support the fight against Ebola financially, consider our Liberian friends from the Kwepunha Surf Retreat with their campaign. And luckily enough people are also surviving the virus.