Helping the people left behind when someone dies of Ebola | ActionAid UK

The death toll from Ebola continues to rise, with the number now at nearly 5,000. But the untold stories behind the headlines are of those left behind – those who have survived the disease or those who have lost loved ones.

Matenneh Kromah received help from ActionAid while she was in quarantine with her three children
Matenneh Kromah received help from ActionAid while she was in quarantine with her three children

In Liberia, we are giving out survivor packs to people who are discharged from the treatment centres. When people leave treatment centres they do not even have the clothes on their backs as everything they have touched has to be destroyed. Many people have lost everything and have no money to purchase new items.

We heard that doctors and nurses had been giving their own clothes to Ebola patients, but now the need is too great. Our survivor kits provide clothes and basic toiletries like toothpaste and soap as well as food – essentials that not only help people keep themselves fed and clean but also help them retain their dignity.

Providing food and supplies in quarantine

We also provide food and supplies for those who are put into quarantine after being in contact with someone who has Ebola — as often they have no other way of getting food.

One pregant woman called Matenneh Kromah received help from ActionAid while she was in quarantine with her two children after her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law all died of the disease. She told me her story.

Matenneh’s story

“A few weeks ago my father-in-law died from what we thought was malaria. As we are Muslims he was buried the same day. My husband and his brother took part in the burial ceremony. Five days later my mother-in-law fell ill and died and then my brother-in-law.

“My husband was panicked and realised that this was not normal and said it could be Ebola. A few days later he started running a fever and asked me to take him to the Ebola treatment centre at the hospital in Monrovia. I took him and luckily for us he was accepted into the centre. Every day for nine days I made the journey from our home to the centre which took up to 2 hours and having to change taxi bus three times just to see him and check how he was.

I lost my husband to Ebola

After nine days I was told he was in a critical condition. I prayed and cried and asked God to spare his life. Because of the huge stigma and discrimination around Ebola, other members of the family did not want anything to do with me and my kids. No one wanted to come with me to the treatment centre to hear what the doctors had to say about my husband.

“A few days later I lost my husband to the cold hands of Ebola. I froze and then I started to panic that myself and my children could also have Ebola as we had been looking after him. For the next 21 days, we had to stay inside.

Supplies during quarantine

“While we were in quarantine the team from ActionAid visited us, asked about our wellbeing and brought supplies of rice, oil, sanitary supplies, soap and hand washing buckets and chlorax for disinfecting. They talked to the children and encouraged me to be strong.”

Matenneh and her family are now out of quarantine and the community chairman has told her community that they are free of Ebola.

Survivor packs and quarantine support are vital

Without the practical support survivors like Matenneh receive during quarantine, they would struggle to put their lives back together again.

You can help women and families like Matenneh’s by donating to our Ebola Crisis Appeal.

  • £25 can pay for cleaning and disinfectant materials for three families at risk from Ebola.
  • £50 can provide a survivor kit for someone leaving a treatment centre with nothing.
  • £100 can provide training to a community on how to keep themselves safe and help stop the spread of Ebola.