Stories

In Guinea, an Ebola survivor tells his story

I was in Conakry [the capital of Guinea] when I received the call that my mother was sick and had been taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, where she was hospitalised, none of the health workers knew that she was suffering from Ebola. I was told that she had been sick since 28 August. Just one week later, on 4 September, she died.

They wanted to carry her body to the mortuary. But we, the family members, refused and took her body to the village where we buried her in respect to our tradition.

Very often in Guinea, religion and tradition have great influence on burial ceremonies, including washing the body and taking it to a worship place for prayer before the final burial, during which the closest relatives are asked to place the body in a tomb. This is how Facinet got infected by Ebola.

I believe I was infected during the burial ceremony, as I was involved in all the activities. One Thursday evening, when I had I returned to Conakry to resume my job, I started to feel a headache and fever.

When it was getting serious, I called a doctor from Matam Community Health Centre. At the health centre, I was told to go to an Ebola treatment centre for examination. There, I was informed that I was positive for Ebola. I was completely desperate and did not know what to do. Immediately, I was placed in treatment. However, I still felt that I would come out of it.

One moment that I will never forget in my life was the moment when Dr. Mary entered the room where I was lying. I was scared when she entered. My eyes were wide open and staring at her, but she spoke to me with a smile on her face.

“Bangoura, tomorrow you are leaving this place,” she said. “You are healed.” I could not believe my ears. Though I had lost six relatives from my family of 15, I was still overjoyed because I was healed.

But things fell apart for Facinet (pictured left) when he came out of the treatment centre. Life was no longer the same for him.

All my friends refused to accept me. Even my boss refused to let me continue my job. I was obliged to return to my village, where even old friends and relatives stayed away from me.

I was alone in the house and was completely isolated from others.

Most Ebola survivors have been stigmatised when they returned to their communities. For Facinet, the end of his isolation began when ChildFund staff arrived in his village, creating greater awareness of how Ebola is spread and that its survivors are no longer contagious.

The day ChildFund and the local government federation staff members came to my village was the beginning of new hope for me. They spent time giving me courage and also sensitising my neighbours and the rest of the community to accept me, telling them that I was completely healed and that I could live among people without any risk of infection.

They continue to support me and the orphaned children in my community with clothing, food and cash transfers to enable us to begin new lives. I am grateful for their support of me and the many orphaned children in my community.

ChildFund Australia would like to thank our wonderful supporters who have generously donated to support children orphaned by Ebola through the interim care centres. ChildFund`s care centres in Liberia and Sierra Leone have now closed but ChildFund continues to support these children in the recovery process.

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