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4 February 2015, 06:55
A Hampshire charity worker has travelled to Ebola-hit Sierra Leone to help plan for the aftermath of the crisis.
Rocco Blume from Winchester, policy and advocacy manager at children's charity Plan UK, travelled to Freetown and will also be visiting a community care centre in Port Loko.
The 39-year-old father-of-two lived in Sierra Leone for nine months in 2004, running a clinic to help victims of Lassa fever, a virus very similar to Ebola.
``I remember Sierra Leone from 10 years ago and I liked it very much,'' said Rocco, who is originally from Winchester and attended The Westgate School.
``It has been such a difficult time but I hope we can try to help the country and its people get back on their feet after such a devastating outbreak.''
Rocco, who now lives in London, will meet government officials, donors, charities and health workers to look at plans for the future.
``The purpose of this trip is to look at planning a way forward with the Ebola crisis. While the infection rate seems to have slowed, we must not neglect other vital areas,'' he said.
``Children are particularly vulnerable in emergencies. The virus has dealt a severe blow to the local economy, education, availability of food and the overall protective environment for children in affected communities and beyond.
``We must ensure that these issues are not forgotten so that the children of Sierra Leone are able to realise their rights to health and education and fulfil their potential.''
The Ebola virus has killed more than 8,800 people in West Africa, including nearly 3,200 in Sierra Leone.