While most of us, from the comfort of our homes watch the horrors Ebola crisis on tv, there are many out there fighting the war like 28 year old Jessica who tells me her time in Sierra Leone and the terrifying ordeals faces daily by staff and patients.
As we sit in the cafe drinking coffee and having a general chit chat about the odd thing that happened on the train she smiles and says “it’s so strange to have random chats like this after volunteering. I feel like I have both feet in two different worlds. It’s quite an eye opener to how, in comparison, to how good we have it here.”
I would say so. She has spent months volunteering in a badly effected area. “It was hard leaving my job and family to pursue this, but I’ve always wanted to do this sort of work. I always wanted to help others. Of course I was also scared that I would catch Ebola too but to me it wasn’t a reason the chicken out.”
“What did you feel the first day? What was it like?” I asked not sure where to start with the questioning. I mean how do you even begin to understand? “I remember just everything being hot and stuffy like someone needed to turn the air conditioning on no wonder with the heat and people sweating over each other it passes so quickly. But my accommodation was okay. Wasn’t exactly homely it was pretty Spartan but my roommates and I made it pretty with what we had. We had running water which we were overjoyed about!”
She moves on about the town and how everything is signposted with “let’s stop Ebola!” And everywhere was selling disinfectant. “This is when it really hit me and I felt afraid.”
I can’t imagine feeling that scared that anyone could be carrying Ebola or even seeing how the locals have taken precautions. She goes on to tell me how they where prepared. “We were told how to lessen the likelihood of contracting the virus. That’s important you can only lessen the chances, not totally prevent.” She told me all about how they are told not to touch their faces, minimal touching of others even handshaking or any contact is prohibited.
Her days on the wards are heart breaking. Children crying for their mothers, even grown men and women doing the same. “There is one little boy *Jacob who cried and cried himself hoarse. My natural instinct was to pick him up. I wanted just to hug him and tell him he would be okay but I couldn’t. He was all alone and No one to comfort him. And he must have been so scared seeing a woman in what looks like a ghost, a white sheet, face covered in a mask like something out of a horror movie.”
At this moment I can’t drink or move I’m just engrossed in this horror. “I had a bit of a scare myself. I woke up one night and ran to the bathroom vomiting. It was only a trivial thing but I was terrified as its one of the symptoms. I still was quarantined for safety measures.”
It was a risky venture and I will be returning soon. In a few weeks I will be delivering a speech at a fund raiser to ask for people to donate to the fight. I hope we get more donations soon so we can beat this thing.