Meet Magnus: The Man Leading the Mission to Care for Ebola Orphans

04/07/15

Twenty years ago, a young man named Magnus Beah stood guard over a warehouse full of furniture, food, and supplies as gunshots rang through the air. His city, Freetown, Sierra Leone, had been overtaken by brutal rebels. Different factions were looting the city, killing everyone in their path. The lucky ones escaped with only an arm cut off. 
 

Why was this man standing in the face of life-threatening danger for some paint and a few pieces of furniture?
 
Magnus didn’t see those supplies as material items. To him they represented the first orphan home Children of the Nations (COTN) was about to build, and the refugee children they would rescue and care for there. “If this paint and supplies were children, would you tell me to leave them?” he asked COTN’s founder, Chris Clark, when he urged Magnus to flee to safety. Passionately and sacrificially, Magnus refused to leave, risking his life so that 11 orphans of war could start their lives over at COTN’s first Children’s Home.
 
Hundreds of children have rebuilt their lives in Sierra Leone, thanks to this man’s sacrifice and the support of people like you all over the world. And today, Magnus stands once again in Freetown, ready to lay down his life again for victims of the latest crisis in Sierra Leone: Ebola.

                                      Magnus (left) with COTN's Children's Home Father, Uncle Thollie. 
 
As COTN opens its Ebola Orphan Care Center and welcomes the first children this month, Magnus will be the first to greet them. He is the man at the helm of this project, supervising our new staff, praying over every decision, and staying up late at night to comfort and care for the children who have been through so much trauma. 
 
“During the war we were dealing with children who had lost their parents, who had no hope,” Magnus explains. “Now, the whole intake is to be born out of the situation presently affecting the nation. Children who may not have been infected by Ebola but who may have lost their parents to it.” 
 
To Magnus, this disease is every bit as traumatic as the war. “We are talking about a child whose life has been broken into pieces,” he says. “Caring for the orphans of Ebola is a huge need simply because when you look at the children orphaned by Ebola you see that already society is going to frown at them. People are afraid, and they are thinking, ‘I do not want to die!’ We have to rescue these children.”


Children who have lost their parents to Ebola are often shunned and abandoned by other family members, who fear infection. COTN's Ebola Orphan Care Center will take in children identified by the government as having no family to care for them. While they are in our care, efforts will be made to reunite them with family. 
 
COTN’s mission has always been to restore dignity and hope to the most marginalized and outcast children of society. Magnus sees this as his number one goal as he cares for the orphans of Ebola, who are often abandoned and rejected from fear that they also have the disease. 
 
“You know the situation is, if you are in a house or compound that has had someone die, then people are there to point at you,” Magnus explains. “People will point and say, ‘She is from that compound where people died.’ Even if you know someone, they will act like they didn’t see you.” As they are welcomed into COTN’s new home and given the love and care every child deserves, Magnus prays they will have their hope and dignity restored. “We want them to know that they are human beings and that all is not lost,” he says. 


Children who have lost their parents to Ebola, and have been shunned and rejected by their families, need to be reminded that they are loved, and that there is hope, Magnus says.
 
The job Magnus is about to take on will not be easy. “Opposition will come,” he says. “It is just like the book of Nehemiah. There will be children that will have problems to work through. And there will be challenges that come from the outside, from the other children [at COTN’s school in Freetown.]” 
 
So many people, from those who gave generously, to our staff in-country like Magnus, have sacrificed to create this temporary home for Ebola orphans. In the end, Magnus knows all his sacrifices will be worth it, for the children. 
 
“I go to bed and I think about these kids. I wake up and I think about them,” Magnus says. “I was in one community this week and I met with the caretakers of one group of children. We talked to them and this one 10-year-old girl sat beside me. Beautiful little girl. Up to now she had not been told that her parents have died. The caretakers were afraid to tell her. She would just say that they were gone. She was clearly a sharp girl and she sat right next to me. And I just loved this little girl. And then I was thinking, what about all the others? How will I feel when I meet all the others?”
 
Will you join Magnus to care for the orphans of Ebola? Give a gift today to support our Ebola Orphan Care Center