Children in families affected by Ebola might find that they are quickly sent away from loved ones who have the symptoms of Ebola. They may have to stand back and watch while people in protective clothing help their loved one. This is hard. Most of us want to be close to or even hug loved ones who are suffering so we can offer them comfort. Young children will find it even more difficult to stand back or keep away as they will not understand.
Rather than just be spectators, children can find something small like a beautiful leaf or stone and ask that this be put close to their loved one as a gift either from one child or from a group of children. This gift may help the loved one feel the children they love are close by and it will help the children feel they have done something to show love and comfort.
Children can also act out or say loving words when touch is not possible. Like an acted kiss or hug using gestures or words that describe what they would be doing if they could touch, “I’m hugging you, my sister. Can you feel it?”.
Older children can help younger children to find special things or words to offer a sick person.
Older children might find themselves caring for younger ones when a loved one is sick. They need support. Try to create a space to listen to children who are affected directly or even indirectly. Older children can become great listeners for the younger ones who are sad or afraid and they need great listeners too.
Try using role play to practice these ideas with the children you know affected by Ebola.
Please click this link for more ideas on Ebola Messages for Children and other activities to get children talking and active.
Thank you to our wonderful friend, Anise Waljee for these great ideas.