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West Africa: Ebola closure

24 October 2016

“Deep breath. ‘Clamp please’. Here we go.”

When Benjamin Black embarked on his first mission to Sierra Leone as an MSF obstetrician, he told himself he’d be OK as long as he didn’t have to perform an emergency hysterectomy in the midst of Ebola. On his very first 24-hour shift, his nightmare was realised. Read Benjamin’s gripping blog post from July 2014. http://msf.me/2dNyFS3

My friend across the fence

At the height of the Ebola outbreak in September 2014, MSF psychologist Ane Bjøru Fjeldsæter wrote to us from Liberia about a little boy named Patrick. Ane worried about becoming attached to this boy with the ‘shy, crooked smile’, who had already lost his mother. “Every day I tell myself: Ane, don't lose your heart to this child who no longer belongs among the living. He is here for a week and then will be gone forever.” But, through Patrick, Ane found the strength to carry on working. http://msf.me/2dGbLMs

“I had to turn people away”

Pierre Trbovic is a seasoned MSF health promoter and anthropologist. Butnothing could have prepared him for the job of standing at the gates of our overflowing Ebola centre in Monrovia, where it was his job to turn people away. Listen to Pierre describe the experience on our Everyday Emergency podcast. http://msf.me/2dt1PlF

Dancing through Ebola

“We couldn’t believe it. We thought it must have been a mistake.” For two weeks in late 2014, Eleven-year-old Mamadee became the star of our Ebola centre in Foya, Liberia. Despite having the disease Mamadee danced his way through his time at the centre, to the delight of his fellow patients. Follow the link to watch a video of Mamadee in action. http://msf.me/2dNzkTg

“Little by little, with strength, you can make it.”

Caring for Ebola patients in our centres was incredibly difficult for our staff. But, others faced even worse obstacles. B Sunday Williams worked with MSF as a chlorine sprayer in one of our outreach team. Along with health promoters, nurses and water and sanitation experts, Sunday and his team would go into the communities in Monrovia to collect the dead and provide information for those left behind about how to protect themselves. Read his incredible story: http://msf.me/2dGgWfA

Fighting stigma

“I lost my relationship of 10 years because of Ebola,” says Siannie Beyan. “My partner abandoned me after I fell ill with the virus, and left while I was admitted for care.” While struggling to survive the disease, many Ebola patients also faced crippling social stigma. Siannie – who survived and went on to become a psychosocial support worker at the very MSF centre in which she recovered – tells her story about the personal struggle she faced.  http://msf.me/2db4uiI

MSF’s 1,000th survivor

It was only seven months from the Ebola outbreak being declared until we released our 1,000th survivor from our care in October 2014. His name is Kollie James, the son of an MSF health promoter Alexander Kollie. “I just wanted us to be together again. Then something amazing happened, something I could not actually believe until I saw it.” Follow the link to read Kollie’s story, as told by his dad: http://msf.me/2db56oD

First known newborn to survive in an Ebola treatment centre

“I'm going to go and tell the rest of the family right now. We didn't think she could survive. But she is in good hands. And she is a warrior." Baby Nubia’s uncle was as astounded as we were when we received the test results confirming that she was free of Ebola. Read Nubia’s amazing story here: http://msf.me/2db8uQa

Surviving

You might think that after being discharged from our centres, Ebola survivors could go back to living a normal life. Sadly, for many, this was not the case. Many of the 15,000 Ebola survivors in West Africa continued to suffer from depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as physical problems like joint pain, chronic fatigue, and hearing difficulties and eye problems. Meet survivors like Sorie, Isatu and Aminata in this report from Sierra Leone: http://msf.me/2dF7kfx

More than two and half years after the Ebola outbreak was officially declared, MSF is now closing its last projects dedicated to caring for people who survived the disease.

The Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa infected more than 28,700 people and killed more than 11,300 men, women and children. Whole families were ripped apart and communities were devastated by the disease.

Despite the horror of Ebola there were moments of hope. Take a look through this album to meet some of the dedicated health workers who responded in West Africa and the patients who helped us to keep on going. Find out more: http://bit.ly/2dOtzTn