Tomorrow, May 9, 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to declare Liberia free of Ebola after months of devastation this deadly virus has Liberia and its people; taken away thousands of lives during its attack on the nation.
Liberia, tomorrow will be singled out amongst two other West African countries, Sierra Leone and Guinea currently under this terrible situation.
At the same time, volunteers on the Liberia National Red Cross Burial Team at said to have had already begun to be isolated and stigmatized.
During a visit to the crematorium in Marshall, at the peak of the outbreak in Sept. 2014, a resident who preferred not to be named spoke to The Bush Chicken. He said that their rejection had reached a point where community members stopped interacting with them.
He said purchasing food from community members, for example, was extremely difficult as no one wanted to sell to them, for fear of being infected.
It is against this backdrop that the Liberia National Red Cross decided to help volunteers that served on its burial team.
The supervisor of the Safe and Dignified Burial unit at the Liberian National Red Cross Society, Rosalyn Nugba-Ballah recently told journalists in Monrovia that at least 3,681 bodies had been managed by the team during the Ebola crisis.
Nugba-Ballah said 1,460 of these bodies were of females, 1,964 of males, and 257 were unidentified bodies.
She said out of the total, 2, 728 bodies were cremated. She said that 618 were buried at the National Cemetery outside of Monrovia, and 335 were buried in local communities.
Nugba-Ballah explained that the statistic covered a period from July 2014 to April 29, 2015. September 2014 had the highest numbers with 1,083 bodies followed by August and October respectively.
Over 500 volunteers took up the challenge to serve with the team but Nugba-Ballah emphasized that not a single person became infected with Ebola as a result of their work.
She then paid tribute to the families, friends, loved ones who lost their lives in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
Meanwhile, the Liberia National Red Cross has begun giving severance packages to the Safe and Dignified Burial volunteers.
According to the Secretary General of the Liberia National Red Cross, Fayiah Tamba, the package is intended to enable the volunteers to start their lives after serving their country.
He said the package included salary, access to scholarship, a livelihood grant, and therapy sessions.
Tamba said it was the Red Cross’s way of saying thanks to those who served on the burial team as front liners in the fight against the dead epidemic.
He said the Liberia National Red Cross will continue to support Ebola response and recovery. This would be done through social mobilization, active case search, emotional and psychosocial support, cross-border surveillance and strengthening of the Liberia’s health system.
Volunteers on the Liberia National Red Cross Burial Team played an important role in drastically reducing the risk of Ebola infections across Liberia.
It was later discovered that the leading chain of transmission of the virus was the unsafe manner in which bodies were being handled by relatives and family members.