Dagenham volunteer PJ’s fight to end deadly Ebola virus
- Credit: Archant
A 28-year-old charity worker inspired to join his dad on the Ebola front line in his native Sierra Leone is to be recognised for his efforts.
PJ Cole, who works at Dagenham’s LifeLine charity, splits his time between London and Freetown, where he has overseen a project to build a school for ex-rebel soldiers.
PJ is now helping eradicate Ebola in the country.
He will presented with an award from The Queen’s Young Leaders’ Programme, set up to honour Her Majesty’s 60 years’ service to the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee.
The former law student told the Post: “I think growing up in Sierra Leone, living in that part of the world all my life and seeing all that suffering, and having the change to bring about change and hope is something that I am proud of.”
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Dad Richard Cole started the Nehemiah Home, where he would house ex-soldiers to shield them from the horrors of war.
In 2012 PJ was asked to restructure the school and home for ex-soldiers who fought in the country’s 11-year civil war.
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PJ now directs a safe-home, four schools and a vocational skills programme, enabling young people to be community leaders.
“My father showed me that with love and care you can do a lot,” he added. “We had children who fought in the war and had committed the worst atrocities but came into our family and have now been to university.
“Their lives have been changed completely. It shows difficult problems can be overcome.”
PJ also leads a team on the National Ebola Response Committee – providing food and support to quarantined families.
His team has just completed the building of an ebola community care centre.
He said: “At the moment it is quite a desperate situation. There are parts of the country that have come to a standstill.
“But we will definitely find an end to Ebola.”