A wound that will never heal –How Josephine’s 29-Member family died from Ebola

Monrovia, Liberia; 20 January 2015-Seated under a mango tree in the middle of a sandy yard with four surrounding houses during a sunny afternoon in the New Kru Town Community, Josephine Dolley, 32, explains how her traumatic ordeal started in August 2014. Josephine said it all started on 7th August when one of her aunts, now deceased, returned from Caldwell after attending the memorial rituals of her brother who community members perceived to have died from the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD). The brother reportedly died and his corpse was not collected by the burial team after being notified by the family.

Two days after the team allegedly refused to show up, Josephine said the family, including her aunt, collected and performed all necessary rituals and buried the body. “When she came back we asked her whether she touched the body or had any contact with the body, but she denied. “That was on August 7, 2014….So, by the 8th and 9th of August, she came down with the illness which we felt was just malaria or fever…” Josephine said.

She said her aunt kept hiding the symptoms of the virus from the other occupants and was secretly taking antibiotics. “So we never knew how severe the illness was until after one week when her husband, her set of twins along with two of her grandchildren also came down with symptoms of the virus…”Before we could realize what was happening, the entire  hold house got infected with symptoms of Ebola” the 32-year-old Ebola survivor stated. It was at this point, Josephine narrated, that the 30-member household was taken to the Island Clinic Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) on the Bushrod Island.

“They took us to the Island Clinic ETU and one after another, everybody died with the exception of me who came back on the 2nd of October 2014” she explained. Twenty-nine (29) of the thirty-member (30) household, including Josephine’s husband and three children, Emmanuel, 19, Augustine, 15, and Exodus, 11, died. They all lived in the eight (8) bedroom rented house. The 29 deceased family members also included her father, mother, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and other relatives.

Josephine spoke in an interview, following the donation of two-hundred solar powered lanterns and radios to Ebola orphans and survivors in the Borough of New Kru Town by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The radios were procured in partnership with a South Africa based NGO, Life Line Energy while the solar lanterns were procured through a pro bono agreement between the UNDP and Panasonic Corporation.

The 32-year-old widow expressed appreciation to UNDP for the donation of the solar energy radios and lanterns and said the items will help them monitor information about the fight against the deadly Ebola virus and lighten their homes. She however stressed the need for development partners and philanthropic organizations to empower those survivors who have the capacity to engage in business and provide employment opportunities for others who are qualified. “Teach us how to fish instead of giving us fish always…Make us fishermen” she said. Josephine explained that she worked with a local NGO in Lofa as an Accountant, prior to the Ebola outbreak, but was relieved of her post when she fell prey to the Ebola Virus Disease.

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