Ebola outbreak

Ebola: No one is coming to save us

Reposted from Marc Maxmeister on ChewyChunks

Katie Meyler has been telling stories of how the people of West Point slum in Monrovia, Liberia overcame Ebola:

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This little girl and her brother and sister lost their parents. The auntie is asking me to help her by taking the kids. I asked her, “If someone helped you support and empower her, would you could feel happy raising your sister’s children?”

“Of course!” She said.

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Rebecca tells me she has symptoms and is scared. I took my gloves off and let my hair down because I was leaving for the day. I wasn’t scared, because she looked strong. We are bringing her meds and will keep a close eye on her. Obviously this is agonizing but we are doing all we can. Please pray for Rebecca with me.

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I talked to local medical staff about serving West Point. Everyone I met was really lovely. There were 20 or 30 body bags with deceased people inside. I was scared but also at peace. This place has things under control.

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Community leaders made the rounds in West Point and found 45 sick people in the areas they were able to check. Unfortunately, all of the clinics are at capacity and not able to receive people.

These are stories of people trying to be resilient in the absence of any real government help. These slum dwellers had only two options if they wanted to survive: wait for the Powers to come save them, or become self-reliant. Resilience won, because they were used to being ignored. And while the medicine, supplies, and training were delivered by non-governmental groups like MoreThanMe, the people running the ambulances, screening citizens, and handing out the food were community members. The community saved itself. It illustrates a larger truism that we keep denying: Only the Poor can end poverty. Allow me to explain why.

First, a little more of my backstory. My job for the past few years was figuring out how to give Voice to the Poor. I ran an East African storytelling project with GlobalGiving from 2010 to 2013. It showed that the Poor clearly were the “experts” on what they needed, and knew how their governments could solve big problems. But my straightforward approach – collect their first-hand testimony and present it to those in power – wasn’t enough. Why? Because governments and international agencies are not built for listening. They have no effective mechanisms to redress complaints. They don’t give local leaders and local solutions a fair hearing.

Most people are eager to speak up at first, but experience teaches them that Power doesn’t care about the Poor. If they complain about a program, the donors too-often go elsewhere and start over, leaving those people with nothing. Spurned and punished for their participation, they don’t speak out.

It is not just organizations. Governments and business have also taught the Poor to merely accept what is offered. Business offers the Poor jobs that sacrifice wages or safety through the unregulated markets of Globalization. Governments are “representative democracies” at best, not direct democracies. Few representatives really listen to the Poor. Power listens to Power. The Poor survive on what they get, and only take to the streets and assert their rights when hardship becomes unbearable.

But sometimes a community does come together and builds something. Ebola’s demise in 2015 is the story of local leaders rising out of the chaos and helping neighbors choose resilience over fatalistic resignation, as I profile in my book.

Their stories are often untold, because telling their story to outsiders doesn’t help them along the path of self-reliance or survival. A reporter swooping in to get the story gives the storyteller fresh hope that someone will save him. There are millions of international do-gooders in the world spending their lives in an effort to help the Poor. We live among the Poor. We listen to them. We share their stories with a broader audience. Sometime we raise awareness about an issue. Occasionally we inspire the Poor. But mostly we offer a twisted hope that keeps them off the path of self-reliance. We cannot end poverty for the Poor, only enable to Poor to lift themselves up.

In a famous letter from a law professor to his student, Bill Quigley writes:

“Many come to law school because they want to help the elderly, children, people with disabilities, victims of genocide, victims of racism, economic injustice, or religious persecution. Unfortunately, the experience of law school and the legal profession often dilute that commitment.”

It is a harsh lesson I keep learning over and over. Regardless of my tactic, Peace Corps, science, banking, or medicine, the end result only moves the Poor a few feet from where they once stood. No mix of skills or tools or toys may ever work if I am the one holding the chalk, the shovel, or the smart phone.

Singing “No one is coming to save us!”

Katie Meyler once said that things started getting better when the people of West Point slum starting singing “No one is coming to save us!” It was a turning point. They understood that local leaders were their best hope for survival. The people were finally taking charge of their own future. The narrative changed from being about the failure of outsiders to the success of the community. And when West Point slum’s death toll fell far short of projections in the months that followed, locals could look at each other and say with pride, “We did this ourselves!

This isn’t about outsiders abandoning the Poor, but about truly Serving the Poor.

But in our world, when stories like these are told by outsiders, the people who supply the materials take the credit. The bags of rice are stamped ‘US AID from the American People’.

CENTRAFRICA-UNREST-US-AIDThe medicines and the trucks and the soldiers all have branding. But the people remain anonymous because they are the community being helped. It is a false narrative to separate the helpers from the helped. Serving the Poor means being in the community, without identity.

Instead, the locals are given supporting roles, first in the narrative, and later in the power restructuring following success (during the elusive “project replication” phase that funders seek). The meeting rooms usually look like this (a bunch of acronyms working together):

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Newsmakers and storytellers and politicians must unlearn bad habits. Every success story is, at its core, about people helping themselves. We outsiders are mere bystanders. But with hard work we can become true servants.

Take another example, this time from the 1960s US Civil Rights movement. One witness tells the story of the political parade that was the funeral for Rev. James Reeb, who was brutally murdered in Selma in 1965:

From the balcony I saw a sea of dignitaries clearly unrelated to the events in Selma. Many faiths had come to pay tribute in this memorial to James Reeb. Until Dr. Martin Luther King himself spoke, it is hard to imagine a more jumbled collection of prepared prayers and speeches rattled off in a patronizing way. It was ecclesiasticism at its worst. James Reeb’s death was described as the most monstrous example of brutality, when in fact it was one more instance in a long series. Men who had not taken the time to meet any young people praised them for their courage. The men and women who had come “thousands of miles” for the memorial were extolled. I thought that it was not too difficult to come and go in 24 hours and have the vicarious experience of heroism through singing a few freedom songs.

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When King began to speak, however, it suddenly seemed right that we should all be there. Everyone moved a bit in his or her seat when King asked rhetorically,

“Who killed Jim Reeb?”

He answered: A few ignorant men. He then asked,

“What killed Jim Reeb?”

and answered: An irrelevant church, an indifferent clergy, an irresponsible political system, a corrupt law enforcement hierarchy, a timid federal government, and an uncommitted Negro population. He exhorted us to storm the bastions of segregation and see to it that the work Jim Reeb had started be continued so that the white South might come to terms with its conscience.

This account captures the movement as well as a pan-out to illustrate the circus around the movement. Power lives a circus life. I too had that experience and blogged about it.

So if local efforts do succeed, outsiders swoop in and take all the credit, and the Poor are pushed out of the limelight. Outsiders get promotions and the Poor find themselves only a few feet from where they began. Though nothing is won entirely without cooperation – and everything is at least partly enabled by those in Power – the distortion of who deserves credit is so large in the International Aid world that we’ve forgotten why it ever works at all. Everything starts because a community buys-in, and ultimately survives because a community takes ownership. We are just drifters and gamblers in their story.

Only the Poor can end poverty. But the rest of us can make that journey lighter. 

One way is by emulating organizations like MoreThenMe.

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It was no accident we find them in the slum at the center of a strong network of relationships. Katie spent 9 years there working for the community as a humble servant. Then in December of 2014, Time Magazine anointed her “Person of the year.” Now she’s brunching with billionaires instead of begging for books. But it is the same Katie, doing the same work. Serving Pearlina and Rebecca and other girls who deserve to go to school. She is part of the community. She was amazing and unknown before; now she amazes a bigger audience with grace:

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They did not invent the process of community-building. It has been known for thousands of years. It is explained in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War:

“Come among the people.

Live among them.

Work with that they have.

Build on what they know.

And when the work is finished, they will say,

‘we have done this ourselves!'”

There has never been a better credo for fighting poverty, nor a better description of resilience. There are many technical ways to stop Ebola, but underneath every successful strategy is an appetite to empower resilient communities in precisely the way that Katie has. She didn’t know much about Ebola, but she knew a whole lot about inspiring people and organizing groups.

This is the most important lesson in my Ebola book for how we deal with the next crisis. Local leaders exist in every community, but too often our international systems co-opt their power and authority, replacing them in a state of emergency instead of empowering them. The sooner we can get a community singing, “No one is coming to save us,” the sooner that community can come together to save itself. Only then – and only through pre-existing local relationships – can international help be effective. No one from the Red Cross, WHO, CDC, and US army can live Sun Tzu’s credo in every town that might face a disaster in the future, and so these institutions need thousands of local allies. Only local voices can sing the melody in the resilience song.

A pro-Poor environment

If we want to hear the Poor speaking up, we must give them space to lead. We can create mechanisms to connect local voices with better performance in foundations and government (Keystone Accountability’s mission). We can reign in our proxy-democracy and make it more direct through functional citizen feedback loops (FeedbackLabs’s mission). We can listen to the Poor and let them speak in their own words (GlobalGiving’s Storytelling Project). These are all steps on the path to prosperity, but they are not the whole path.

I offer a deeper dive into these issues in my book, Ebola: Local Voices, hard facts on Amazon.

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Stories of resilience in the midst of Ebola

Reposted from globaluminary.wordpress.com.

Most of the international stories surfacing deal with so much of the negative it seems hope is lost in the fight against Ebola. Well, I am here to bring you a new perspective. One I hope will inspire during this time of loss, uncertainty and fear. May this post shine brightly in the midst of the fight to contain Ebola.

Allow me to introduce you to some local survivors, who have now committed themselves to educating communities and working in Ebola facilities to comfort both families and patients. Please meet a few overlooked Ebola Fighters.

Mohamed and Zena are Ebola survivors from Guinea. Both became infected with the virus while caring for Mohamed’s older brother, who at the time, they were not aware had Ebola. The virus hit their family hard, with 9 becoming infected and 6 dying.

After recovering, Zena, a 24 year old school teacher and Mohamed, a 34 year old civil servant both lost their jobs from the stigmatization attached to the disease. Even with facing so much loss in their lives both knew they wanted to become more active in stopping the transmission of the virus so other families could survive and not endure the same pain they suffered from. They wanted to work to keep villages in tact and safe.

Medecins Sans Frontieres and other NGOs saw this as an opportunity and have deemed both Zena and Mohamed, Ebola Ambassadors. They go around communities contributing their personal stories to share knowledge, save lives and ultimately control the outbreak.

Then there is Salome Karwah of Liberia. Salome, her parents, fiance, sister and niece all became infected after her uncle contracted the virus by taking another infected woman to the hospital. Shortly after his death, Salome and her entire family, found themselves at an Ebola treatment center for care.

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She describes her experience as:

“Severe pains were shooting inside my body. The feeling was overpowering: Ebola is like a sickness from a different planet. It comes with so much pain, and it causes so much pain that you can feel it deep in your bones.”

After 18 days, and following the loss of her parents, she tested negative for the virus and was able to go home with her fiance, sister and niece. After arriving home to fearful neighbors, she knew she needed to do more to educate and fight the stigma attached to Ebola. Currently Salome is back at the same treatment center who provided her care working as a mental health counsellor. She treats patients as family and shares her story to inspire them through it all.

Dr. Ada Igonoh a Nigerian doctor, takes you on an emotional rollercoaster as she recounts her experience surviving the deadly Ebola virus. A story so powerful, it has spread across the world like wildfire. Now as a survivor she uses some of her time to educate the world on her experience. She discusses her fears, the realities, thoughts and the tools she used to pull through the hardest of her days.

Stop_Ebola_0Sadly, Ebola continues to threaten the lives of millions. However, even through the storm, can light be seen. I found these stories to be inspirational aswe work to #EndEbola. We all have a part to play. To understand the magnitude of loss experienced by Mohamed, Zena and Salome and yet to see the passion blazing through them, now all working to care for their communities is a selfless act and one we should all aim to recognize. In fact,  Time Magazine has deemed such actions as Heroic naming a few as ‘Person of the Year.

Let’s not further the stigmatization or lose sight of what it takes to end such a deadly virus. Instead educate yourself on the virus and take time to hear more stories of survivors and how they too change the tide of this current epidemic. Write a governmental official. Blog. Whatever positive action you chose to take could make the impact necessary to perhaps… just  perhaps… #EndEbola.

Protest: Ebola victims’ bodies left in hospital entrace by burial teams

Health workers in Kenema, Sierra Leone, say they have not been paid their hazard allowance for seven weeks.

An Ebola treatment centre run by the Red Cross in Sierra Leone.
An Ebola treatment centre run by the Red Cross in Sierra Leone. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images 

Bodies of Ebola victims have been dumped outside a hospital in Sierra Leone by burial workers, who are protesting at the failure of authorities to pay them bonuses for their hazardous work, residents have said.

Tensions in the eastern town of Kenema reached new heights with the action by members of the burial teams. Local residents said three bodies were abandoned in the hospital doorway, preventing people from entering. There were reports that 15 bodies in total had been left in the street.

Healthcare workers have repeatedly gone on strike in Liberia and Sierra Leone over lack of pay, unfulfilled promises to pay them more and their dangerous working conditions. Two weeks ago, health workers walked out of the Ebolatreatment centre in Bo, the only one in southern Sierra Leone, over the same issues.

A spokesman for the striking workers in Kenema, who asked not to be identified, said they had not been paid their weekly hazard allowance for seven weeks. Authorities accepted that the money had not been paid but said all the striking members of the Ebola burial team would be dismissed.

“Displaying corpses in a very, very inhumane manner is completely unacceptable,” said the spokesman for the National Ebola Response Centre, Sidi Yahya Tunis.

The head of the district Ebola response team, Abdul Wahab Wan, said the bodies had included those of two babies, and some had been displayed around the hospital.

The pressures on burial teams and health workers in Sierra Leone are severe as the case numbers continue to climb, in spite of a slow-down in neighbouring Liberia. Official figures from the World Health Organisation on 21 November showed there have been 6,190 cases in Sierra Leone, including 136 healthcare workers, and 1,267 deaths. There have been 15,351 cases and 5,459 deaths reported in the Ebola outbreak in total so far. The true figures are expected to be far higher.

Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federation, has launched a video to name and honour 325 health workers, including doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and cleaners, who have died of the disease in the three worst-hit countries. According to the WHO, 588 healthcare workers have been infected and 337 have died. Some will have lacked the personal protective equipment needed to do their job safely.

The federation said the “grievously high loss of lives” revealed a failure to invest in public health systems in the three worst-affected countries.

Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, said on Monday that the target of getting 70% of people with the virus into treatment and 70% of those who die safely buried by 1 December would not be met.

”In some places, we are definitely going to make it: we see some really good impact of the efforts of the national authorities and the United Nations system,” he said.

“It’s clear where there are escalating cases rapidly accelerating the spread of the disease, and where we don’t have the response capability on the ground, and that’s definitely the case in some places, we’re not going make it.”

The areas of greatest concern are in rural parts of Sierra Leone, the city of Makeni in the centre of the country, Port Loko in the north-west and the capital, Freetown.

Millions of dollars in aid have been pledged, troops have been sent by the UK and the US, and volunteer health workers are slowly arriving, but the epidemic in Sierra Leone is yet to show sign of abating.

Ebola: Still outpaced, nurses strike, and why West Africa?

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Ebola crisis: ‘We are still being outpaced by epidemic,’ MSF head tells MPs

Via The GuardianEbola crisis: ‘We are still being outpaced by epidemic,’ MSF head tells MPs. Excerpt:

The Ebola epidemic is still outstripping efforts to contain it, according to doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières who have mounted most of the early response in west Africa. Speaking to MPs from the House of Commons international development committee, MSF’s head of UK programmes said the apparent decline in numbers in Liberia did not signal the end of the epidemic. “We are still being outpaced,” said André Heller-Perrache . ”There are far more actors on the ground but we are still being outpaced by it, with Sierra Leone being the most concerning case we have.” Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, a UK-based doctor in emergency medicine who has recently returned from Sierra Leone where he was a volunteer with MSF, said there was “too little of everything being done in terms of intervention”. He described how doctors in MSF’s treatment centre in Kailahun would don protective suits to meet an ambulance that could have been travelling across the country for 10 hours expecting dead bodies, which are highly infectious. “Usually there is a patient who is dead,” he said. “There was [in one ambulance] one dead woman and two who were alive but terrified. They have watched this poor woman die a wretched death and they are thinking, ‘I’m now going to die as well.’” Prof John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who in September called the outbreak a potential doomsday scenario, said he would not say that the nightmare had been averted. “Things have improved dramatically in Liberia now – cases were doubling every two weeks. Now there is a turnaround and they are declining. “The number of cases in Liberia has flattened out. The increase has stopped and come down, but we haven’t got rid of Ebola. In Guinea and Sierra Leone the rate of increase hasn’t really changed much at all.”

Ebola in Sierra Leone: Health workers go on strike

Via BBC News: Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone health workers go on strike. Excerpt:

More than 400 health workers involved in treating Ebola patients have gone on strike at a clinic in Sierra Leone.

The staff, who include nurses, porters and cleaners, are protesting about the government’s failure to pay an agreed weekly $100 (£63) “hazard payment”.

The clinic, in Bandajuma near Bo, is the only Ebola treatment centre in southern Sierra Leone.

In Mali, a nurse and the patient he was treating earlier became the second and third people to die from Ebola there.

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

The Bandajuma clinic is run by medical charity MSF, which said it would be forced to close the facility if the strike continued.

MSF’s emergency co-ordinator in Sierra Leone, Ewald Stars, told the BBC that about 60 patients had been left unattended because of the strike at the clinic in Bandajuma.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that in the US, National Nurses United are organizing strikes and rallies over inadequate protection for healthcare workers.

Ebola: Why West Africa?

Thanks to Greg Folkers for sending the link to this conditionally accepted paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical DiseasesWhat factors might have led to the emergence of Ebola in West Africa? The abstract:

An Ebola outbreak of unprecedented scope emerged in West Africa in December 2013 and presently continues unabated in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Ebola is not new to Africa and outbreaks have been confirmed as far back as 1976. The current West African Ebola outbreak is the largest ever recorded and differs dramatically from prior outbreaks in its duration, number of people affected, and geographic extent.

The emergence of this deadly disease in West Africa invites many questions, foremost among these: Why now and why in West Africa?

Here, we review the sociological, ecological, and environmental drivers that might have influenced the emergence of Ebola in this region of Africa and its spread throughout the region. Containment of the West African Ebola outbreak is the most pressing, immediate need.

A comprehensive assessment of the drivers of Ebola emergence and sustained human-to-human transmission is also needed in order to prepare other countries for importation or emergence of this disease.

Such assessment includes identification of country-level protocols and interagency policies for outbreak detection and rapid response, increased understanding of cultural and traditional risk factors within and between nations, delivery of culturally embedded public health education, and regional coordination and collaboration, particularly with governments and health ministries throughout Africa.

Public health education is also urgently needed in countries outside of Africa in order to ensure that risk is properly understood and public concerns do not escalate unnecessarily.

To prevent future outbreaks, coordinated, multiscale, early warning systems should be developed that make full use of these integrated assessments, partner with local communities in high-risk areas, and provide clearly defined response recommendations specific to the needs of each community.

The stories still hard to find: The local responses to Ebola

Reposted from How-Matters.com

This morning when I googled “local response” + “ebola”, here’s some of the headlines I found:

Nurse’s visit spurs Ohio Ebola fears 

Florida: County and hospitals prepare for Ebola

As KU Hospital tests patient with Ebola-like symptoms, Lawrence agencies coordinate response

Denton City Council to be briefed on virus response

Ohio residents fear Ebola precautions could prompt panic (What’s up Ohio?)

Patrick Poopel holds his certificate that informs the world he is Ebola free in Monrovia in September. Photo: Morgana Wingard / MSF

Not exactly what I was looking for. With all this drummed-up fear and stereotypes and prejudice flying around, I guess it’s easy for Americans to miss that Nigeria has been declared ebola-free, as was Senegal on Friday. And it’s easy to miss stories of people fighting the disease, like survivor Alhassan Kemokai in Sierra Leone who caught it while caring for his ailing mother, independentambulance workers in Monrovia, or 6-year-old Patrick Poopel (pictured) whose smile who the only thing left that is infectious. Nursing student Fatu Kekula saved her father, mother and sister by inventing her own protective gear from trash bags. Apparently international aid workers heard are now teaching her ”trash bag method” and to others who can’t get into hospitals.

This is more of what I was looking for, but these stories are unfortunately often hard to find. So I thought I’d share a few others on the local response to Ebola that I’ve been collecting since the outbreak hit the international media – please share any others in the comments:

  1. The Hidden Heroes Of Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, by Jina Moore
  2. Ebola must be fought from the grassroots, by David Norman and Saran Kaba Jones
  3. The Rain after the Drought: Ebola, International Assistance and Community Initiatives in Liberia, by Charles Lawrence
  4. The West ignores the stories of Africans in the middle of the Ebola outbreak, by Ishmael Beah
  5. Liberian Ebola Survivors Return to Help the Sick, by Heidi Vogt
  6. Ebola: the story of the Sierra Leone diaspora response that no one is telling, by Katherine Purvis

Is Ebola in West Africa a “crisis of governance” or “the ugly face of a global aid system that is broken“? These questions are an abstraction to those who are facing sickness and suffering this very day.

Malonga Miatudila, MD, who was part of the first team that dealt with Ebola first in 1976, describes how they contained the disease without the knowledge we have today: “Engage with communities. Give them the leadership of the fight…International experts are there to support local communities, and not to substitute.”

If you want to give to local efforts, see GlobalGiving and the Ebola Survival Fund. Unfortunately this Indiegogo campaign by 5 grassroots organizations in Sierra Leone didn’t meet their goal, but you can still be in contact with them directly via email. Diaspora, share how you’re responding to ebola here.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~Fred Rogers

Look for the helpers. Reach out. Invest in those that are there for their communities, whether funding is available or not.

Ebola: 1,332 Nigerian Soldiers Quarantined in Liberia

The Nigerian Army has revealed that about 1332 of its peace keeping troops in Liberia have been placed under surveillance following their contact with a Sudanese who later died of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

They reportedly came in contact with an infected Sudanese man who was in the soldiers’ camp to lead them in prayers during the Sallah celebration.

The development was disclosed by the Director of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, Major-General Obashina Ogunbiyi in Abuja on Thursday October 9.

Ogunbiyi reportedly added that Nigeria is still at risk of the disease as any of the soldiers could choose to come back home at any time.

He also said that the quarantined soldiers are part of the reason “…why the military had to be totally involved in the fight against the Ebola virus.”

Nigeria has contained the Ebola outbreak and is set to be officially cleared by the World Health Organization on October 20.

What It’s Like To Be An Ebola Survivor In Sierra Leone (PHOTOS)

Via Huffington Post, 10/10/2014

Mohammed Elshamy is an Anadolu Agency photojournalist covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Through his work in Sierra Leone, he was able to meet a 38-year-old mother of four who survived Ebola, named Rigiatu Kamara. Kamara lives in a very poor area with no services like clean water or electricity. Below, Elshamy shares Kamara’s story of being infected with Ebola — and surviving — with HuffPost.

“One day, I felt I had a serious fever. I was cooking at the evening, with plans to catch up with one of my friends that I promised I would take her to church, but I couldn’t go due to the fever,” she remembered.

“I called my man [husband] and asked him to cook in my place because I was sick. I took water with Panadol, then I went to the toilet as I also found I had diarrhea. And it all turns bad; my head and throat ached, my legs felt weak, and my back hurt so bad,” Kamara recounted.

“My body was very weak; I heard on the radio that if anyone has symptoms like fever and diarrhea, they should go to the hospital and report,” she added.

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Kamara poses with her husband Baibai in Kenema on Aug. 26. “I was actually happy to see him put his hands over her shoulder,” Elshamy told HuffPost. “For me, it means a lot that they faced the virus and now [she] survived it with her husband.”

A day later, the couple went to a hospital for testing, where a nurse asked Kamara if she had recently come into contact with any sick people.

“I said ‘maybe,’ so they took a blood sample and said I should come [back the] following day,” she said.

Kamara remembers breathing a sigh of relief when the doctors told her that she had tested negative for Ebola.

“I was happy, but I was still feeling weak,” she said.

Her relief, however, didn’t last long. Two days later, two men from the hospital came to Kamara’s house to break the news.

“They said I shouldn’t touch my kids; no sexual intercourse — that I’m infected by Ebola,” she said. “They said my [blood] sample had to go through three stages, the second and third of which confirmed that I had tested positive for Ebola — so I was asked to follow them to hospital to be put in the Ebola unit there,” she recalled. “Meanwhile,” she added, “my children and husband were quarantined for 21 days.”

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Kamara looks at photos from her youth in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on Aug. 26.

Talking about her feelings when she was infected, she said she felt there was no mercy in the hospital. Kamara was admitted to a ward packed with Ebola patients, where only a few people were available to help with treatment.

“People died on a daily basis when I was in the ward. For days, we weren’t served food; there was no mercy. I just thank God I survived,” Kamara said.

“Whatever I ate was later vomited; they don’t serve milk, nothing … My husband brought medicine, food and Maltina [a local beverage],” she added.

After five days of treatment, Kamara tested negative for Ebola and the hospital said she could be discharged, although she was still suffering diarrhea.

A doctor at the hospital asked her to stay for a few more days. Five days later, the diarrhea was gone and she was discharged with an official certificate giving her a clean bill of health.

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Kamara shows the recovery document approved by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health. The certificate reads: “The above named patient is been seen and managed at the Ebola isolation unit. Kenema Governmental Hospital. He/She is now clinically, physically and mentally fit to go home to rejoin his/her community. He/She poses no risk of infection to the community.”

However, she returned home only to get the cold shoulder from her neighbors, who feared they might catch the disease from the former patient.

“One of my friends stopped talking to me because I was an Ebola patient,” Kamara said.

She is now helpless and jobless as many in the community continue to avoid her — despite her certificate.

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Kamara picks up a towel from a washing line in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on Aug. 26.

“I used to be a seller, but now it’s all gone. School will start, but I don’t have the money to pay the school fees for my kids. I’m bankrupt,” she said.

“When I was discharged [from the hospital], they just gave me 30,000 Leone [around $7]. They didn’t even give me medicine,” she added. “All we have now is dry bulgur — that’s what we have for food,” she said. “This morning, I found nothing to eat.”

This piece has been edited for length and clarity. Additional research by Damon Dahlen.

This story is part of “Inside an Outbreak,” a HuffPost series taking you to the front lines of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak. For more information on how you can help, visit HuffPost Impact.

Voices from the epicentre of the Ebola epidemic

As Ebola spreads across west Africa, we talk to the medical and humanitarian professionals scrambling to contain the spread of the disease

Reposted from  – Guardian Professional, Monday 14 July 2014 12.17 EDT

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Medics enter an Ebola isolation tent at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea. Photograph: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos/Médecins Sans Frontières

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is unrelenting: according to the World Health Organisation there have now been 888 cases and 539 deaths across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the virus was first reported in March this year. The epidemic is unprecedented and the global health community has been left scrambling to contain the disease, for which there is no vaccine or cure.

In a bid to boost the response to the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) convened a special meeting on 2-3 July in Accra, Ghana, with health ministers from 11 West African countries and partners involved in tackling the disease.

Here, professionals involved in fighting the deadly virus share their experiences of what it’s like to be at the epicentre of the epidemic.

Dr Ibrahim Bah, medical supervisor at the isolation centre of Hôpital National de Donka, Conakry, Guinea

I work in the department for infectious and tropical diseases so I am used to working on epidemics but this is the first time I have dealt with Ebola. It is a new disease in Guinea. Before Médecins Sans Frontières arrived, we had no specific training on dealing with the virus. At the beginning, I was scared: I saw people haemorrhaging to death. The experience is traumatising for patients too: they know we don’t have a vaccine or a cure, and they think: “I have Ebola, my life is over.”

The earlier patients seek treatment however, the higher their chances of survival. We have had more recoveries than deaths on the ward. The first recovery was a real celebration – it gave us strength to continue working.

Safety is paramount but working with the protective clothing is exhausting in the heat. On very hot days, you sweat so much that you can’t keep the equipment on in the ward for more than 30 to 45 minutes.

It has been very hard for us: there is a lot of stigma attached to working with the virus and some people have been rejected by their families. But as people become more aware and realise Ebola need not be fatal, things will change.

Dr Jacob Mufunda, World Health Organisation representative, Freetown, Sierra Leone

One of the positive outcomes of the emergency ministerial meeting is that it aligned our actions. Until then, each country had been dealing with the disease individually. Yet the epicentre of the disease is the border area triangle between Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The people living in this region are the Kissi. They speak the same language in each country and they move across borders along traditional routes.

So WHO is very clear on this issue: closing borders would make no difference. What is crucial is that we keep focusing on surveillance and that we harmonise our approach across countries because if you use different languages and different practices to tackle the disease and approach these people, who should they believe?

We want to encourage countries in West Africa to send their medical staff to affected countries so that they get hands-on experience. That way, if the virus spreads, they’ll be better equipped to tackle the epidemic.

Mohamed Fofana, training manager with ActionAid, Kono District, Sierra Leone

We have just finished training 24 community outreach workers to raise awareness about Ebola. A key consideration in recruiting participants was that they are influential in their community so that when they go back, people listen to them.

The training focused on the origins of the disease, its transmission, the signs and symptoms and what to do if you suspect a case of Ebola. We heavily emphasised the fact that transmission can happen through a dead body because in Sierra Leone, it is customary to pay your respect to the dead, to wash the body, touch it or keep clothes or sheets of the deceased, but these practices do not conform with Ebola prevention.

If they suspect that someone is infected or has died from Ebola, outreach workers know that they should immediately notify the authorities. They must also refer the patient to the nearest health facility or make sure that no one comes into contact with the corpse if the person is dead. A specially-trained burial team will intervene instead.

Dr Bernice Dahn, deputy minister for health services, Monrovia,Liberia

Our biggest challenge is denial. People do not believe that Ebola is happening. There is a lot of fear and panic too and we’re struggling to get people to come into hospital when we suspect they are infected. The key for us is to align our traditional leaders with medical and health ministry officials: our society holds them in high esteem so if they are on board, they can educate their communities.

Dealing with Ebola is labour intensive. Case detection is a door-to-door process; once identified, patients have to be taken to isolation wards; and then we need to trace all the people they have been in contact with. We also need special burial teams to handle dead bodies. Sorting out the logistics for all these interventions has stretched us.

The difficulty is that the situation keeps evolving so we’ve had to modify our response needs: our initial strategy cost was $1.2 million but as the epidemic has progressed, we estimate we’ll now need $6.5 million. We’re still working within the constraints of the initial budget but the international community has been very supportive, so I am hopeful that we’ll be able to tackle this epidemic within the shortest possible timeframe.

Life under Ebola in Lagos, Freetown, Monrovia

As we headed toward the gate, a young boy passing by glanced at us and said: “That’s the Ebola house.”The doctor pushed the rusty gate open with the sole of her shoe, warning me not to touch anyone or anything. “Not the walls, not the doors, nothing.”An eerie silence filled the empty courtyard that leads to the Lagos house where a nurse died of Ebola. The five families – 26 people in all – who shared the house with her were being monitored for possible signs of the dreaded disease.

I wasn’t sure what to expect and I must admit that my apprehension was high as I accompanied the doctor who had been visiting the house on a daily basis to monitor the health of the 26 people listed as contacts – meaning they had contact with a person who had Ebola.

Each family has its own separate room, but the bathroom is shared by all the compound’s residents. The doctor called out someone’s name and people began to emerge from the doorway. Within a few minutes about a dozen people, young and old, had gathered. Greetings were made, but we remained a couple of yards (meters) away from the contact persons.

All of them had brought along their digital thermometers so their temperature could be recorded. One of the first symptoms that Ebola patients tend to exhibit is a fever. All the contacts were given a thermometer and told to take their temperature daily for 21 days, the incubation period of the Ebola virus.

Entrance to the Lagos Ebola treatment center. (c) UNICEF Nigeria/2014/Terry Howard

The contact monitoring teams meet every contact person daily to make sure temperatures are properly taken and recorded. Anyone who develops a fever or shows any of the other Ebola symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, headache, or a rash, is taken to the treatment facility for testing. There is no known cure for Ebola, but proper clinical care, if started early, can greatly increase chances of survival. In Nigeria, 12 of the 19 cases confirmed by September 16, survived.

But survivors face another battle after fighting off the disease – stigmatization – which also affects their families and anyone they had contact with. In the compound, I asked what life has been like since the nurse had taken ill and passed away. Everyone wanted to talk at once, and all said they had been contending with stigmatization in one form or another.

Three of the men living in the house had lost their jobs – two of them had just been informed that morning. Both of them worked as security guards for a nearby church that they attended. The third was a private driver.

Community members who used to come into the compound to draw water from the well now stayed away, even though the house was decontaminated the day that the nurse was taken to the hospital.

Terry Howard

“If we go out onto the street, people run away from us. They are afraid,” one of the contact persons said.

“We’re hungry-o,” an older man said, pointing to his stomach. “People won’t sell us food, they won’t take our money. It’s three days now since we’ve eaten and we’re hungry.” All of those standing around nodded in agreement. .

The families in the compound were not receiving any assistance. When they told me that they had not eaten anything for three days because nobody would sell them any food…that really tugged at my heartstrings.

As we drove away the man’s words “We’re hungry-o” kept ringing in my head. The children, the adults…they’d done nothing wrong. They were simply being monitored for their own safety and that of their community.

I just had to get them some provisions – bread, rice, and ground cassava. I re-entered the courtyard after pushing the door open with the sole of my shoe. They seemed surprised to see me return so quickly, and their eyes lit up as I put the plastic bags filled with food down on the small bench. Everyone reassembled and thanked me. Such a small gesture…but one that made a big difference to these hungry children, women and men.

The following day, I was told that, somehow, news of me giving them food reached the local government authorities, who then provided some more supplies.

Terry Howard is a Staff Counsellor at UNICEF Nigeria. Since the Ebola outbreak started in Nigeria, he has been providing psycho-social counselling to people affected by the disease in Lagos and Port Harcourt. UNICEF is playing a key role in sensitizing people about Ebola, to help contain the spread of the disease and to combat stigmatization.

Life under the three-day lockdown in Freetown

Source: KSN via Associated Press – Sep 20, 2014

(AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
(AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
A health worker volunteer marks a home with chalk to identify that it has been visited.(AP Photo/Michael Duff)
A health worker volunteer marks a home with chalk to identify that it has been visited.(AP Photo/Michael Duff)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Some in Sierra Leone ran away from their homes Saturday and others clashed with health workers trying to bury dead Ebola victims as the country struggled through the second day of an unprecedented lockdown to combat the deadly disease.

Despite these setbacks, officials said most of Sierra Leone’s 6 million people were complying with orders to stay at home as nearly 30,000 volunteers and health care workers fanned out across the country to distribute soap and information on how to prevent Ebola.

The virus, spread by contact with bodily fluids, has killed than 560 people in Sierra Leone and more than 2,600 in West Africa since the outbreak began last December, according to the World Health Organization. It is killing about half of the people it infects.

The streets of the capital, Freetown, were empty Saturday except for the four-person teams going door to door with kits bearing soap, cards listing Ebola symptoms, stickers to mark houses visited and a tally to record suspected cases.

Among the volunteers was Idrissa Kargbo, a well-known marathoner who has qualified for races on three continents but whose training and career have been stymied by the outbreak.

(AP Photo/Michael Duff)
(AP Photo/Michael Duff)

Although early responses to the disease have been marred by suspicion of health workers, Freetown residents on Saturday seemed grateful for any information they could get, Kargbo told The Associated Press.

“Some people are still denying, but now when you go to almost any house they say, ‘Come inside, come and teach us what we need to do to prevent,’” Kargbo said. “Nobody is annoyed by us.”

Sierra Leone’s government is clearly hoping the lockdown will help turn the tide against the disease which the U.N. health agency estimates will take many months to eradicate in the country. In a speech before the lockdown, President Ernest Bai Koroma said “the survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean” was at stake.

The strategy has drawn criticism, however. The charity group Doctors Without Borders warned it would be “extremely difficult for health workers to accurately identify cases through door-to-door screening.”

Even if suspected cases are identified during the lockdown, the group said Sierra Leone doesn’t have enough beds to treat them.

In a district 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Freetown, police were called in Saturday to help a burial team that came under attack by residents as they were trying to bury the bodies of five Ebola victims, Sgt. Edward Momoh Brima Lahai said.

A witness told state television the burial team initially had to abandon the five bodies in the street and flee. Lahai said later the burials were successfully completed after police reinforcements arrived. The bodies of Ebola victims are very contagious and must be buried by special teams.

In northern Sierra Leone, health worker Lamin Unisa Camara said Saturday he had received reports that some residents had run away from their homes to avoid being trapped inside during the lockdown.

Police guard a roadblock as Sierra Leone government enforces a three day lock down. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
Police guard a roadblock as Sierra Leone government enforces a three day lock down. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)

“People were running from their houses to the bush. Without wasting time, I informed the chief in charge of the area,” said Camara, who was working in the town of Kambia.

Several health care workers and volunteers complained that supply kits were delivered late, preventing their teams from starting on time.

But Kargbo, the marathoner, said his team was on track to meet its goal of visiting 60 households by the end of the lockdown Sunday. He said the effort would be worth it if the outbreak is shortened even a little.

Other Freetown residents, however, were having trouble making it through the three days.

“The fact is that we were not happy with the three days, but the president declared that we must sit home,” said Abdul Koroma, the father of nine children in Freetown.

“I want to go and find (something) for my children eat, but I do not have the chance,” he said.

Coco’s journey, losing 10 of her family in Monrovia

Source: Pastor Garrett

Can you imagine the feeling of defeat and despair that one who has lost 10 family members to the Ebola virus could sense? We recently sat down with Coco Dahn and her husband, Peter, as she talked about the pain of having ten close family members pass away due to the Ebola virus over in Monrovia, Liberia. And if that pain isn’t enough, she still has three teen-aged children there who are trapped in isolation inside Liberia and whom she hasn’t seen in months (although she has spoken with them on the phone.) Their names are Bernice, Luther, and Nelson. Luther and Nelson are 15-year-old twins.Coco3

As you have probably already heard, the CDC is currently urging everyone to avoid nonessential travel to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone because of the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in those countries. The CDC further recommends that travelers to these countries protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are sick with Ebola.

There are reports of civil unrest and violence against aid workers all over West Africa as a result of this outbreak. In fact, the public health infrastructure of Liberia is being severely strained as the outbreak grows.

Coco1

Of course, the Liberian government has responded by recently implementing enhanced measures to combat the spread of Ebola. These measures will affect travel in, out, and within Liberia. This creates another aspect of Coco’s Challenge. movement of her children within and without the country. Here are the five-point measures that the Liberian government is taking.

  • All Liberian borders are closed except for major entry points.
  • There are new and stringent measures of screening for the virus to be implemented at those major entry points. Again, this affects ALL incoming and outgoing travelers.
  • There are new restrictions concerning public gatherings.
  • Quarantine measures have been established for communities heavily affected by Ebola; travel in and out of those communities will be restricted.
  • Authorized military personnel have been placed to help enforce these and other prevention and control measures.[1]

Coco2All of these situation make Coco’s story even more difficult. She wants to get her teen-aged children out of Liberia to a place where they can be reasonably safe. But they are trapped within their own city. Because of the quarantine measures there in the city of Monrovia, they are essentially confined to their house … even though they are not sick nor show any signs of the sickness.

So ISOH/IMPACT is trying to help Coco by getting her children out of Liberia. Phone calls are being made to immigration attorneys, emails are being sent to embassies, questions are being researched concerning medical and health screenings, and finances are being raised to support this massive project.

We are aware that there are many who are in a similar situation to the one that Coco is in. And we know we can’t help them all BUT … together, we can help one or two.

Would you consider making a gift of love to help us with this project? We are not sure what the final price tag will be because we are only in the initial stages. But we promise to be good stewards of the gifts that God gives us through you.

If you want to donate, please go to the following website and click on the “Donate” button under “Where Needed Most”: http://isohimpact.org/make-an-impact-with-hope/ Be sure to let us know that this gift is for “Coco’s Challenge.

News mashup: Life goes on amidst ebola

MONROVIA, Liberia — The girl in the pink shirt lay motionless on a sidewalk, flat on her stomach, an orange drink next to her, unfinished. People gathered on the other side of the street, careful to keep their distance.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah waded in. Details about the girl spilled out of the crowd in a dizzying torrent, gaining urgency with the siren of an approaching ambulance. The girl’s mother had died, almost certainly of Ebola. So had three other relatives. The girl herself was sick. The girl’s aunt, unable to get help, had left her on the sidewalk in despair. Other family members may have been infected. Still others had fled across this city.

Dr. Fallah, 44, calmly instructed leaders of the neighborhood — known as Capitol Hill, previously untouched by Ebola — how to deal with the family and protect their community. He promised to return later that day, and send more help in the morning. His words quelled the crowd, for the moment.

Dying of Ebola at the Hospital Door

Months into the Ebola outbreak, Liberia remains desperately short on everything needed to halt the rise in deaths and infections — burial teams for the dead, ambulances for the sick, treatment centers for patients, gloves for doctors and nurses. But it is perhaps shortest on something intangible: the trust needed to stop the disease from spreading.

Dr. Fallah, an epidemiologist and immunologist who grew up in Monrovia’s poorest neighborhoods before studying at Harvard, has been crisscrossing the capital in a race to repair that rift. Neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, shack by shack, he is battling the disease across this crowded capital, seeking the cooperation of residents who are deeply distrustful of the government and its faltering response to the deadliest Ebola epidemic ever recorded.

“If people don’t trust you, they can hide a body, and you’ll never know,” Dr. Fallah said. “And Ebola will keep spreading. They’ve got to trust you, but we don’t have the luxury of time.”

With his experience straddling vastly different worlds, Dr. Fallah acts as a rare bridge: between community leaders and the Health Ministry, where he is an unpaid adviser; between the government and international organizations, which have the money to back his efforts.

But the scale of the task is daunting. He is trying to beat Ebola in a city of 1.5 million people where the disease is expanding exponentially, where entire families search in vain for medical care, and where the main hospital is dangerously overwhelmed, plagued by electrical fires, floods and the deaths of health workers infected with the disease.

Dr. Fallah has slowly begun winning over the city’s toughest neighborhood, West Point, the seaside slum where he spent two years of his childhood. Deadly clashes between angry residents and soldiers erupted recently after Liberia’s government placed the entire neighborhood under quarantine. The 10-day cordon, enforced by the army and the police, merely deepened the mistrust of the government in the city’s slums, the very neighborhoods most affected by Ebola.

They divided West Point into zones, much as was done during the war to ensure that everybody received food and other vital supplies. Surveillance teams of volunteers overseen by Dr. Fallah now scour West Point, searching for information about a dead or sick person, hoping to identify victims and remove the bodies before the disease can be passed on.

His teams visit every morning, tracing the circle of people around Ebola victims to see who else develops fevers or starts vomiting. This painstaking process, repeated until an outbreak is eventually contained, has extinguished past Ebola outbreaks in rural Africa — and may be the only hope of stopping it now.

“Dr. Fallah has taken the situation in West Point as if he were living here,” said Kenneth Martu, a political organizer in West Point. “We can say openly: Had he not been here, things would have gotten far worse.”

Two days after the government lifted the quarantine in West Point, the Health Ministry asked Dr. Fallah to start using the civil war-era zone system in two other Ebola-stricken neighborhoods, perhaps another signal of the government’s turn away from force in its campaign against Ebola.

“We feel that using the communities to provide the leadership for us to do the Ebola work is more effective,” said Dr. Bernice Dahn, a deputy health minister.

Dr. Fallah’s team of contact tracers pushed deep into West Point one morning, into a labyrinth of hovels and alleys that became ever narrower. A group of young men appeared abruptly, blocking the only exit, their intention clear. They went away, with a $10 bill.

“I usually carry small bills,” Dr. Fallah said. “But I forgot to break this bill this morning.”

Monrovia is the first city to face the full onslaught of Ebola. Tracing the contacts of Ebola victims has never been attempted on this scale, yet Dr. Fallah’s team has only five vehicles to monitor hundreds of thousands of people. One vehicle was in the shop for five days, so Dr. Fallah used his own.

In West Point, a slum of up to 120,000 people, Dr. Fallah deployed 15 volunteers to track 150 people who may have been exposed to the virus. The tracers fan out early in the morning to catch the people at home — they are supposed to stay indoors, but many do not — and to minimize contact with an often hostile community.

“On the field, as we are going, they are cursing us, passing around, talking plenty,” said Marie Harding, a tracing supervisor.

At one house — a large one by West Point standards, with eight rooms and, even more unusual, a restroom — about 20 people came to the entrance, emphatically stating that everything was fine. A man named Junior, who rented a room, had died in late August, apparently of Ebola, and a burial team had come to pick up his body three days later.

David Yeah, 75, the home’s owner, said that he had locked the room. Sprayers had come to decontaminate it; they had thrown the dead man’s clothes into the sea. The house’s other occupants had avoided the man before his death, bringing him neither food nor water, he insisted.

Dr. Fallah had seen this many times before. The government’s failure to provide basic services keeps undermining the trust he is trying to build. Burial teams take days to pick up the dead; ambulances — there are only about a half-dozen in the capital — respond to only a fraction of emergency calls. Those lucky enough to be transported to a treatment center are often turned back, taken home because of a shortage of beds, or left pleading at the gate for admission.

“The government has to keep its part of the bargain,” Dr. Fallah said, adding, “The community can do one thing for us. They can limit the spread. But they must see that their labor is leading to some fruit.”

Photo

Dr. Mosoka Fallah, center, an epidemiologist and immunologist, with residents of New Kru Town, a district in Monrovia, Liberia.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The government’s lifting of the quarantine after 10 days also gave West Point a conflicting message. Many rejoiced at the move but interpreted it as proof that there was no Ebola in their community.

On the Sunday after the quarantine was lifted, churchgoers celebrated what many saw as West Point’s deliverance from Ebola. Inside the Dominion Life Church, next to an Ebola holding center, the faithful danced and — disregarding awareness campaigns to avoid touching and risk exchanging body fluids — shook hands and grasped one another’s arms with fervor.

“No, no, no, no,” the Rev. William Morlu, the church’s senior pastor, said when asked whether Ebola was present in West Point.

At the Church of Pentecost, Emmanuel Oben, 45, the chairman of a local P.T.A., said that the government was “not sincere.” But Dr. Fallah, whom he had met twice, was “a man that everybody wants to work with,” he said.

“People trust him,” he said. “He was once like us.”

When Dr. Fallah was 10 years old, his father lost his job as a driver for an American mining company, so the family moved to Monrovia. The family lived in West Point for two years and then moved to a squatter’s area called Chicken Soup Factory, where his parents eventually built a house. His mother still lives in it.

During Liberia’s civil war, he spent 11 years completing his college studies at the University of Liberia, and worked for Doctors Without Borders. A friend’s support led to graduate studies in the United States, where he earned a doctorate in microbiology and immunology at the University of Kentucky in 2011 and a master’s degree in public health at Harvard in 2012.

A project to open a maternal care clinic in Chicken Soup Factory brought Dr. Fallah back to Liberia after Harvard. The clinic opened in June but was shut down a month later because of the Ebola outbreak.

On an afternoon of heavy rain, Dr. Fallah drove out to two neighborhoods where local residents had begun organizing Ebola awareness campaigns on their own. In the face of the hysteria gripping the capital, they were joining forces and fighting back.

In one area, volunteers like Obediah Daykeay, 22, who had read up on Ebola in an Internet cafe, were instructing neighbors on the use of bleach and water to wash their hands. They had invited Dr. Fallah after hearing him on the radio.

“We are trying our best with the few resources we have,” Mr. Daykeay said. “Nobody else has come here.”

In another neighborhood, a group of youths had raised money to print an eight-page pamphlet on Ebola. Dr. Fallah spoke to them inside a church, urging them to organize monitoring teams.

The youths listened intently, fear visible on many faces, craning forward in their pews toward Dr. Fallah as rain beat noisily on the church’s corrugated roof.

“I’m not saying I know the answer,” Dr. Fallah said later. “I’m struggling like any other person to find the answer — just have a lot of spirit and God. But one thing I’ve realized is that the people in the community, some of them have the answers.”

Five ways UNICEF is fighting Ebola

BY ON 17 SEP 2014 via UNICEF BLOG

UNICEF Ebola Survivors Sierra Leone

1. Delivering supplies

We are delivering supplies that are important for the treatment and care of people who are sick with Ebola, and for continued supply of basic services. We continue to airlift essential supplies to the affected countries on a massive scale. By the first week of October we will have delivered 1300 metric tonnes and mobilized 55 flights. Read about what goes into making these deliveries happen.

2. Helping families protect themselves

In the coming weeks, we will be focusing on packing and shipping 50,000 Household Protection Kits. These kits contain gloves, gowns, masks, soap, chlorine and buckets. The first 9,000 of these will leave this week for Liberia. The Household Protection Kits complement the Family Hygiene kits which are already being packed and distributed in the country.

3. Preparing at-risk countries

UNICEF is also working with Governments in at-risk and neighbouring countries to prepare them for possible Ebola outbreaks. We are already sharing information with communities and developing contingency plans and stockpiles. Learn more about the work being done with communities in affected countries to raise awareness about Ebola.

4. Sending in extra staff

Building on our existing country presence in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, we are bringing in 67 additional staff members to these three most-affected countries. Another 37 staff members will be deployed in the coming weeks. We’re seeking committed professionals to join our Ebola emergency response team in West Africa.

5. Raising more funds to fight Ebola

We sent more than USD 7 million of our own resources to respond to the Ebola outbreak, including almost USD 4 million to Liberia alone. We have received approximately US 7.5 million from donors, but this is only 4 per cent of the total of USD 200 million we need to respond to this crisis.

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