Ebola Survivors Given Safety Net in Sierra Leone

When Saio Samura, a 38-year old driver in Freetown, Sierra Leone, died eight days after contracting the Ebola virus disease (EVD), all of his personal effects and household items were burned.

This left his widow, M’balu, and their three children grappling with not only their grief and fear of infection, but also with an empty house.

In an all too familiar scenario across the affected region, those who survive EVD and the bereaved of those who did not must endure the decontamination of their household. Everything that could possibly carry the virus, which lives on objects for several days after the infection, must be destroyed or disinfected. Homes are stripped bare, clothing and bedding burned, and personal items are disposed of in the decontamination process.

Samura’s death also means a lack of income for his family, who cannot afford to replace the missing items.

“We had to sleep on mats,” says M’balu. “Now, thanks to the Solidarity Kits, we have a mattress we can share.”

Solidarity Kits are part of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) response to the Ebola crisis. This response also includes running public information campaigns on how to prevent infection, where to seek treatment, and procuring basic goods to survivors to support their return to a normal life. The kits include food and basic household and personal items to kick-start the survivors’ return to a normal life.

Over the next few weeks, 105 solidarity kits will be distributed to survivors who received treatment at at several clinics nationwide, including the Emergency Lakka Treatment Centre.

“This [donation] is very, very helpful. It’s easier sometimes [for the survivors] to start a new life because the community is not accepting them,” says Milos Gocic, an Emergency staff member stationed in Freetown.

Gocic and his colleagues have been working tirelessly at the Lakka Treatment Centre to treat the hundreds of cases that come through the gates of their clinic. With all 15 available beds occupied since the crisis began, they share in the excitement when a patient recovers.

But unfortunately, their joy is short-lived as there is always a new patient with EVD to fill in the vacated beds. Today is no different. For the two survivors heading home with UNDP Solidarity Kits in hand, there is already a couple suffering from the disease waiting outside the gates. They have been there a long time. But with the treatment and care available at the Centre, they will hopefully make it through.

Source : United Nations Development Programme

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