World Vision says none of its sponsored children has Ebola but the fear of infection is 'pervasive'

Zainab and Finda say they have been badly affected by the Ebola outbreak(Photo: World Vision)

While West Africa grapples with one of its worst health crises in recent times, World Vision says the outbreak of Ebola has "infected" people's lives in other ways.

It confirmed that, so far, none of the children in its child sponsorship programmes in the region has caught Ebola, but life has still be greatly hampered.

Sschools are closed and movements are being heavily restricted in a bid to contain the outbreak.  For children this means they aren't able to attend their usual clubs or hang out with friends.

Zainab, a 12-year-old girl sponsored through World Vision Sierra Leone, was set to take a secondary school entrance exam back in June when Ebola struck.

The school year was meant to start on 1 September, but there are still no classes and school buildings have become "ghostly shells", World Vision reports.

"Ebola has affected us badly," said Zainab.

"I really want this Ebola virus to come to an end. It has affected our education, restricted movements, and is keeping us away from our friends.

"My parents don't allow me to go too close to my friends, neither do their parents allow them to come close to me for fear of being infected with the virus.

"It is even affecting the children's club because there are many things we want to do right now, but we have been stopped."

World Vision, which has provided thousands of medical and protective supplies to Sierra Leone tackle the outbreak, said the fear of catching Ebola is "pervasive".

But for Zainab's mother, Finda, there is an additional concern.  She fears that the disruption and lack of things to do will lead to early marriages for some of the teenage girls in the village.

"Many children Zainab's age might be given in early marriage by their parents after this period at home," she said.

Zainab echoed her mother's concerns, saying that since the arrival of Ebola, some of her classmates do not like going to school anymore.

"Their parents might give them away to early marriage, or some will get pregnant and become dropouts," she said.

"We are praying to God every day that this Ebola will come to an end. So we will start going to school and all the social activities will begin again."