CAFOD has been recognised for its efforts in halting the spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. As part of the SMART Consortium - an Alliance of faith-based organisations working on the Ebola virus response - the Consortium led by World Vision has won the prestigious BOND International Humanitarian Award.
The award was presented at a ceremony in London yesterday, recognising the courageous service of the more than 800 burial workers who serve with SMART, a UK government-funded consortium comprising of World Vision, CAFOD, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Together the three agencies have trained and equipped burial workers to conduct Safe and Dignified burials for Ebola victims across Sierra Leone.
The teams have also been commended for observing cultural customs, faith traditions for both Christians and Muslims, while preventing contamination of family members. Since November 2014, SMART's 57 teams have buried more than 16,000 people across Sierra Leone.
CAFOD's Kayode Akintola, Country Representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia, said: "We're absolutely delighted to be a part of this very special BOND Humanitarian Award which recognises the important work of the Safe and Dignified burial teams in the SMART Consortium in Sierra Leone.
"The burial teams of World Vision, CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services continue to work at great risk to their own lives, to bury Ebola victims safely and with dignity. Their work has played a part in halting the spread of this devastating virus. This award is a timely recognition of their tireless efforts."
Ebola can quickly spread through contact with the bodily fluids of people who have died from the disease, ensuring that burials are done safely and with dignity is crucial in safe-guarding communities from further spread of the Ebola virus.
CAFOD's Emergency Response Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia, Dennis Momoh, who oversees the day to day running of the 60-strong burial team in Kambia added: "This award honours the dedication and professionalism of these ordinary people from all walks of life, who have refused to be overwhelmed by the Ebola virus. We remain determined more than ever to see the end of it, and we are on the right track. The number of new infections is shrinking, but we can't afford to be complacent as one single new infection could reignite the outbreak if not dealt with quickly and contained."
The runner up for the BOND Humanitarian Award, was CAFOD partner Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria. He was recognised for his work with Caritas Syria providing more than 200,000 people in Syria with their basic needs throughout this protracted conflict.
Unable to be in London to receive his award, he sent the following message: " It is clear that Syria is going through a very difficult humanitarian crisis caused by the violence of the different armed groups involved. However, I would like to stress that Caritas Syria has provided, and will continue to provide humanitarian assistance meeting the basic and essential needs of the Syrian people such as - food, healthcare, and shelter. Thanks to the support of different British institutions and in particular thanks to CAFOD. We deeply thank you and we pray for the prosperity of your country and for all the humanitarian agencies that work for peace and justice in the world."