In between job hunting (goes with the season Awwooo…), advising local organizations and reviewing proposals, I keep in touch with friends in ground zero of the Ebola crisis. I’ve received mixed news and happy to say that some of them are good news which you need in times like this but there are sad news as well.
A couple working in Liberia was sent back to the their home country before the crisis exploded in August while my doctor friend who I thought was in one of the emergency hospital in Freetown is now in Niger but told me one of his German colleague caught the virus and is being treated back in his country. Not so good news of death in the family of local staffs and community worker being caught in riots are told to me by my friend, and local staffs asking for interventions from outside and being afraid for their lives, being hospital workers themselves are posted in my fb account.
In times of crisis you will see the resilience of the people especially the local people, I should know because I am from the Philippines. But I cannot compare the problem of the Ebola crisis in countries in West Africa in mine. The problem is no laughing matter, you cannot joke about it, its serious and people are dropping dead like flies. I made lifetime friends in Sierra Leone, they give me updates and now a very dear friend is working there with one of the many international organization since the early part of this year and was caught in all what is happening on the ground.
My friend is now out of the country, that is why she was able to write longer letter to me and she’s in Europe after being marooned in Sierra Leone for 13 weeks, she’s doing self-quarantine because her family refused to have her home unless she do that. She has to hold the fort in the capital Freetown and keep the work going by giving information to those that are still not affected hoping to stop the spread of the virus in those villages while the boss was out looking for more support.
Education, giving correct practical information is the key in preventing the spread of Ebola in the bush and not many can read as you go deeper in the villages so you have to be creative in doing that, and I think those organizations have done great work to spread the word and contain the spread of the virus. But still the problem is dire and help is very slow to come.
We’re still not frontline, no medical work for XX but trying our best with the social mobilization work ie the messages to try and decrease the number of patients in the first place. We’re struggling as we still don’t have funding yet .. It’s frustrating still in that you want to do more and now, but we’re trying very hard.
The problem on the ground is big and it has potential to get bigger (and even explode) if they will not contain the virus. Though I have to say, Senegal and Nigeria was able to contain the virus from spreading and that gives us hope that it’s possible to arrest the spread of the virus and save a lot of people from being infected.
Frustrating also, is the stigma received by the people going in and out of West Africa (or Africa for that matter). It is very sad, because at this age and time and with the internet connectivity, there should be no ignorant people in the world. We should all be very discerning with how we act and react. Ignorance can kill. It is best to know the facts first and understand what’s happening on the ground before you label people or throw invective at them.
Let me help set the pace with Finding Patient Zero which gives you insight on how it all began and with the Don’t Touch Rule will show you how the virus is affecting the very young and the family as a whole. That should encourage you to read some more.
In my line of work, we always fight against stigma and discrimination of people with disability, its a very tedious work, which should not be if only people would accept that we are all the same with different abilities Now, the same cold shoulders, back talk and harsh words are thrown to people that had given their time to help — no fair! Worst is that if those discriminating words are from your family, friends and community your grew up in does that.
A few issues with my family, I can’t see them unless I’ve done a 1 month self quarantine, hence the reason I am in Belgium for a week by myself!! I am not a risk as I haven’t been in contact with any sick people / bodies but there’s a lot of fear and stigma about.
There’s no escaping on this unless we decide to act differently. We, outside the ground zero should practice more compassion, be more understanding and empathize with those people. Better yet, we offer short prayers that the crises ebb and life return to normal for those affected and say prayers of thanks that you’re better and hope for the best for others.
In fact I am experiencing the stigma thing first hand after all these years of talking about it in the disability work. Lessons to be learned all over the place.
A lot of efforts are still needed … all hands should be on deck to help. If eventually the crisis is over, the impact of it is not. The long-term effect of the crisis will linger on and on especially for the families that had lost loved one, of villages cordoned off from the world, and for those that lend a helping hand — from witnessing death in front of their eyes, and experiencing loss in the faces of the people they encounter and for simply being overwhelmed.
There’s no sign of a downturn yet, it’s all still spiraling. Thankfully a lot of international support is now coming in, but a growing suspicion that some people will be getting seriously rich out of this, all very distasteful. The coordination is also all over the place so it’s still difficult to find our place even though we know we can do some good work. We’ll keep trying.
Let us anticipate the future, continue looking ahead, plan ahead and budget ahead. let us put aside our ignorance, our lack of compassion, our being selfish and offer whatever help you can. You can think of any way possible to help those in need of some good words, of your prayers, of your understanding, of your love. Anything that you think of that can help.
That is how to be HUMAN after all … we thrive with each other.CDC and WHO and other UN and other international agencies who does not do it for ratings or money. Those are sites that consolidate (verified) information from the ground up.
Some stories on survival …