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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Liberian mother helping children orphaned by Ebola

23-year-old mother-of-one, Decontee lives in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. She was studying a management degree at business college while her fiance and father of her child, Peter studied abroad in Ghana. In August Peter returned home for a short visit to see Decontee and their son. It was during this time that both he and Decontee contracted Ebola from Peter’s sick aunt.

One month later, and after spending three weeks in an Ebola treatment centre, Decontee is the only survivor. Her five-year-old son, who tested negative, is glad to have his mum back. But his father was not so fortunate, losing his life while undergoing treatment. Peter`s aunt`s four children have also died. So, it is not surprising that her father now calls her ‘Decontee the resurrected’.

Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund national director for Liberia and Sierra Leone, says: “Many people, including children, are dying. Some parts of Sierra Leone are under quarantine. There is a dusk to dawn curfew in Monrovia. Prices of basic household supplies like rice and oil are high. People are moving around in fear of being infected.”

Decontee’s immediate family, while lucky not to have contracted the illness, have suffered in other ways. Decontee explains: “In my absence, away from my mother and family, my people were stigmatised. No one would go around there. They found it difficult to buy food because everyone said their money was infected. My five-year-old son could not play with his friends because they were afraid he could spread the virus.”

The discrimination Decontee’s family suffered prompted her to use her immunity from the disease to help others.

“I don’t want what happened to my family to happen to anyone else,” says Decontee. “It is difficult for these children. Their parents came down with the virus, nobody wants them. As survivors we have an understanding of how to work with them.”

She is now one of the volunteers at Liberia’s first Interim Care Centre for Ebola orphans, established by ChildFund Liberia in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

“I can take good care of them because I’m no longer vulnerable to the disease,” she says. “As long as the kids are there, I will continue to work with them.”

Thank you to those who have already donated to ChildFund’s Ebola Emergency Appeal. Your generous support is helping to provide children who have lost everything with housing and meals, health monitoring, basic education, and trauma support. 

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