The laying of the reeds by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Wednesday on the graves of some of the thousands of Liberians cremated during the Ebola crisis was a moment of sadness for her and hundreds of families whose relatives are buried at the National Ebola Cemetery outside the capital, Monrovia.
Her visit marked National Memorial and Decoration Day for the disease’s victims, and was the first time since the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia that such a huge turnout of families visited the cemetery.
Many cried as if the death of their relatives and loved ones had just taken place. Some lay on the graves, screaming and shouting with pain and agony over the deaths of their relatives, around the president’s arrival early Wednesday morning.
“I know what you are going through,” said Sirleaf. “We can’t question God, but what we can do is to pray to God to make you strong to enable you to take this loss as his will.
“So we came to join you in once again recognizing the loved ones that you have lost and recognizing what you are going through.”
She told the mourners, “If there is a pastor, I would like to call that pastor to please come and say a prayer, say a prayer for only those who were victims, for all of those who are being left behind and to pray for this nation that God will continue to bless us.”
Prayers were offered, but the cries across the cemetery grew louder as hundreds went searching for their relatives’ gravesites. For some it was their first time visiting the cemetery since the death of their relatives due to Ebola, as well as others who regularly visit the area to mourn and speak to the dead.
– Great sorrow
Crying and laying herself on a grave, Angeline Truah, 28, told Anadolu Agency that her late husband meant a great deal to her and that since his death she regularly visits his resting place.
“I miss him so much, this is the reason I was laying on his grave,” she explained.
“When he was alive, whenever I was hurt he would always console me … Whenever I see our 10- year-old daughter, who looks just like him, it makes me cry all the time.”
Angeline said she always pays visits to the public cemetery.
Angeline married her husband in early 2014 before the heart of the Ebola outbreak, and he died less than a year later, that November.
Another woman, Annie Jacob, 51, who lost both her parents to the outbreak, told Anadolu Agency that life without them has been full of sorrow.
“My coming here brought more sorrow to me; this is my first time visiting this national cemetery since both my parents were buried here during the Ebola crisis,” she said sadly.
Ebola, a killer disease that broke out in West Africa, in Liberia alone killed more than 4,000 people, leaving behind over 3,000 orphans.
It was the deadest disease outbreak in decades, claiming thousands of lives in few months, particularly in West Africa, affecting Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.