Samuel's Story

A tragic accident and the arrival of Ebola caused Samuel to lose many things - but not his hope for the future

Samuel Ebola

Samuel, 15, having a physiotherapy session with Save the Children senior health advisor Dr Juan Diaz, at his home in Sierra Leone. Photo: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

 

By the time Samuel* was 15 he had already lost his father to war, his mother and grandmother to Ebola, and his leg to a tragic accident. He was an orphan who was cast aside by his community and locked away by his remaining family. Samuel had nothing and no one cared.

Samuel's accident was small, something that could happen to anyone. One day while he was walking to a farm he slipped and fell. He thought nothing of it. Until three days later when his foot was so swollen he could not walk, and eventually his skin burst from the pressure. He traveled from his home in Sierra Leone to a doctor in Guinea to seek treatment. The journey was long and painful and the doctor he saw told Samuel the injury was the cause of witchcraft. He returned to his village no better off and confronted by a terrifying incident – Ebola had made its way to Samuel's home.

"One week after I returned my grandmother died. Three weeks after that my mother died too. Many people in my village were dying all around me. Another woman who used to care for me also died. Children too. I was so afraid."

One month later Save the Children came to Samuel's town and made sure he was brought to a hospital to receive proper care for his foot injury. There he met Dr. Juan, the senior health advisor for Save the Children, who gave Samuel the news that his foot was too bad by this point and had to be amputated. However, Samuel was not afraid.

"I wasn’t afraid. I had been in so much pain for such a long time and I knew that after the operation I would get better," Samuel said. "Immediately after the operation I felt better. I remember thinking that when I get better I will still be able to have a good future. Be someone important in society."

After the operation Samuel went to live with his aunt in a home Save the Children found for them. He was given all the amenities he needed for his new life – including a wheelchair and crutches so he could get around his new community and eventually so he could go back to school. The community rallied around Samuel and supported him and his aunt while they settled into their new life together. Samuel’s doctor also made sure he had the support he needed to continue getting stronger.

"Dr. Juan was the one who taught me exercises to become fit and strong again. So I can walk again – start my life again. He has been so good to me. The community have been very supportive too. They help get me around."

Although Samuel has experienced so much loss at such a young age, he is so excited that he still has a future ahead of him. He has now been able to return to school and has made many new friends. He has dreams of being a successful banker.

"I would tell [Save the Children] 'thank you!' because they have done good for me in my life."

 

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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