Child protection officer, Konday Marah, and 16-year-old Ebola survivor Joshua* sit outside a Save the Children field office in Sierra Leone. Thanks to the regular visits with Konday and our work to help reintegrate children who have survived Ebola back into society, Joshua’s life is returning to that of a typical 16-year-old boy.
An Orphaned Survivor Talks About His Journey
When we first met Joshua* during the outbreak of 2014-15, he bravely shared the story of how he survived the disease that ravaged his family and changed his life forever. Ebola is a highly infectious disease with a high mortality rate, killing 3 out of 4 children who contract the illness. This terrible disease swept across West Africa, leaving behind a wake of orphans and mournful children.
Before the Ebola outbreak, Joshua had a happy childhood. He loved school and enjoyed playing outside during recess. His father was a pharmacist, whose spare time was spent on the family farm with his three children, 13-year-old Joshua, a teenager Patrick, and 9-year-old Ruth. Joshua looked up to his dad – a smart, hard-working man who raised his family on his own. But like many in his community, Joshua’s father was struck with Ebola.
Joshua’s extended family realized the dire condition his father was in, so his uncle and grandparents moved in to help. Little did they know, the highly infectious disease was slowly and quietly spreading around them, and they were quickly infected as well, and perished. All three children were infected – and alone.
Joshua felt helpless. He stopped going to school and playing outside. His family was sick and no one in their community knew how to help. Joshua wanted to be brave. He wanted to beat the disease. Most of all, he wanted his siblings to not be afraid. He constantly kept their spirits high until they were admitted into a Save the Children-supported Care Center.
After being admitted into the hospital, Joshua remembers how scary the doctors there were. They constantly wore strange yellow suits and masks that kept their faces hidden. But to his relief, the doctors were good people that helped Joshua, Patrick and Ruth beat the disease. Joshua will never forget the moment his doctor told him they were Ebola free. He danced joyfully around the hospital.
Once Joshua, Patrick and Ruth were cured of Ebola, they were placed in an Interim Care Center. There, Save the Children gave them a safe environment to recover from the tragedies caused by the virus, and helped them reconnect with other family members. Save the Children worked on the ground throughout the outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, implementing a comprehensive, child-focused response strategy to the world’s Ebola Crisis.
*Name changed for child protection
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