A Visit To Ebola Victim Community

By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy

Several non-governmental organizations have begun pouring into the Larjour Community in Caldwell where a lady has been confirmed contracting the Ebola virus in Monrovia. So far the home where the lady resided containing 20 bedrooms has been quarantined with 75 occupants’ movement jeopardized.

Visiting the community yesterday from the government school in Caldwell where the victim sold food for her livelihood, pupils were seen taking tests while the instructors were carrying out their normal businesses. As usual, other women were seen selling other foodstuffs and going about calmly.

The families who are serving their 21 days of quarantine have gone four days already and said some NGOs including the Ministry of Health have begun providing them with some of their basic needs including two gallons of drinking water a day per family head, some rice and cornmeal.

Speaking with some of the quarantined family members, they explained how they are being shunned by other community dwellers and are prevented from going to fetch water at any of the community wells as well as getting their cellphones charged at any recharge booth in the community.

They said from the onset of the information gathering, the group catering for them presently, recorded only 65 occupants in the house and therefore when the distribution was carried out, some members of the house were left out.

They also complained that the two gallons of water per family head is not enough to carry them for a whole day. Meanwhile it was also observed that the residents are peaceful and abiding by the instructions even though there is hardly any restrictions as they are not confined to the house where the quarantine is being carried out.

The children are not allowed to go to school and even if they go to their schools, they are sent back home with remarks that they have Ebola and must remain home while at the same time the older members of the family just sit at home and during the evening hours some of the women venture going to the market to buy food.

Some of the quarantined kids who seemed to be eager to play with their friends and return to school since they were gearing up for tests explained how they are turned away by their friends’ parents and even the teachers at their school before the quarantine exercise was announced with remarks that they have Ebola.

When a first grader was quizzed why he had not gone to school, his response was, “Because they say I have Ebola.” It was made practical when just about that same time, another child was passing along led by an elderly man and when the lad attempted to greet his friend, the elderly man shoved the child and asked the boy being quarantined, “Why are you calling him?”

So far, Concern Worldwide, ACF, MoH and Red Cross have been seen identifying and interacting with the residents of the community without wearing any protective gargets or the least gloves. At the community private school where one of the victim’s children is said to be attending, one of the partners were seen distributing non-food items to families of the kids.

Even though the partners are glaringly preventing the families being quarantined from speaking to members of the press, except per their permission, the residents believe that they cannot keep quiet as this concerns their person and marred by stigma. At one point, one of the partners threatened to call in the police if the residents spoke with the media.

According to a U.S. News report, the woman who was tested positive for Ebola in Liberia last week is dating a survivor of the disease and also quoted a health official of saying that on Tuesday samples were taken from the boyfriend for testing.

The woman was tested positive for Ebola last week Friday and her case has caused concern because she did not seem linked to any of the people on an Ebola contact list neither did she travel to nor from an infected country.

This is the first confirmed case in weeks and the country had at most 13 more days to be officially declared Ebola free by the World Health benchmark but Liberians’ hope for freedom from the Ebola menace was shattered upon hearing the news of a new confirmed case.

However, the health authorities are making frantic efforts to contain the case and any further outbreak. Liberia has seen more than 4,300 of the more than 10,000 deaths in the West African Ebola outbreak.