Retail Orphan Initiative Focuses on Ebola in Liberia

10/27/2014
Responding to the Ebola virus that has ravaged West Africa, the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) announced a major campaign to help fight the outbreak in Liberia. Working with its partner charities operating in Liberia, the #RetailFightsEbola campaign is rallying retailers, manufacturers and individuals to provide much needed medical and hygienic supplies to Liberia.

RetailROI's goals are two-fold:
  • Raise $1,000,000+ in donated goods from retailers and manufacturers. RetailROI is working to provide specific items requested by its partners and the Liberian Ministry of Health, including first aid supplies, as well as food, clothing and linens to help with practical aid and care for survivors and the more than 3,400 children that are newly orphaned from the disease.
  • Raise $250,000 in financial contributions from companies and individuals for immediate relief. The financial contributions will help RetailROI partners provide additional relief until the goods arrive. 100 percent of the funds will go directly to Ebola relief; RetailROI is a foundation that is part of the Giving Back Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Liberia is one of the world's poorest countries, with an average national income of only $412 per capita annually. It is also one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola and could see another 90,000 deaths and 171,000 infections by year-end without new efforts against the disease, according to a new study released last week.

"For obvious reasons Liberia's government is primarily focused on mobilizing hospitals, treatment centers and coordinating with others to help with the treatment and keeping order," said Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me, a RetailROI partner whose original mission was to provide education and opportunity to the most vulnerable girls in Liberia's West Point slum, but has recently expanded to combat Ebola.

"When it comes to practical aid for those most at risk, the vast majority of the work and distribution is being done through community groups and non-government organizations with boots on the ground like us," Meyler said. "Survivors of this disease lose everything; their entire household and belongings are burned to stop the spread of the disease, and several thousand survivors are now orphaned children. These funds and resources will be a great help and will save lives and help slow the spread of this disease."

RetailROI partners, including More Than Me and several others, have successfully reduced the number of new cases by up to 90 percent in some of the areas hardest hit by the disease, through education, community outreach and delivery of basic medical and hygiene supplies. These efforts have been so successful that the Liberian Ministry of Health reached out to them to expand their work to additional Ebola hotspots within the country.

"The goods that Liberia has requested are readily available from nearly any supercenter, drug, clothing, or grocery store in the U.S.," said Greg Buzek, co-founder and donor trustee, RetailROI. "We are asking retailers and manufacturers to donate products at their cost from overstocks or out-of-season goods. This is retail's chance to make a difference in the lives of people that desperately need our help at the source of the outbreak and will be key to helping contain this epidemic."

For more information, to donate or get involved visit www.retailroi.org/ebolarelief, and watch a video announcing the #RetailFightsEbola campaign.

An informational webinar is scheduled for Tues., Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. EDT for those interested in getting involved. Interested parties should register here for details.
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