Team Zim

1 Part Bleach, 3 Parts Sweat

SAM_1802Meet “Team Zim”: Obert and Simba are two IRC Sierra Leone short-term staff members from Zimbabwe. Both have been working in the Bo and Port Loko Isolation Units run by IRC. Obert is an Environmental Health Specialist and Simba is an Isolation Unit Nurse Supervisor. Both of their jobs require them to enter the low risk and high risk zones of the isolation units, for direct patient care or for managing the chlorine systems and WASH facilities. They also provide supervision to the local nurses and environmental health officers and sprayers. Obert is leaving to go back home to finish his post-graduate degree while Simba is taking a week of rest before returning for six more weeks of work inside the isolation units.

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to meet and work with so many inspiring people from all types of backgrounds. Thank you…

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Together we de fet Ebola

1 Part Bleach, 3 Parts Sweat

IMGP7211 Photo Credit: Mary O, IRC Sierra Leone

It’s tempting to drawcomparisons between the current Ebola outbreak to Sierra Leone’s civil war, which ended over 10 years ago. Many Sierra Leoneans have told me they think Ebola is worse than the civil war, because Ebola is an invisible enemy. Before, when the rebels were around you knew where to avoid. Now, you must be live with a constant guard around yourself and your family.

TIME called Ebola fighters 2014’s Person Of The Year. Some of us cringed at that title. Many healthcare workers have told me they reject the notion that they are “fighting an enemy” and want the narrative to be one of supporting local healthcare workers and communities, hard-work, and dedication.

Word choice aside, Ebola is a tough beast. The national and international nurses, doctors, environmental health and sanitation experts, sprayers, burial workers, community mobilizers, youth activists…

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The Smile of a Survivor

1 Part Bleach, 3 Parts Sweat

I had the opportunity to meet 3 strong women — 3 survivors. They were at the IRC-run isolation unit in Masiaka interviewing for nursing and laundry work. They expressed to me their happiness and blessings at surviving but without work, things are difficult for them. As of December 28, there were 1,780 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone.

IMG_0595Survivors are about the only people in Sierra Leone you can hug and touch without any fear — you know they’re not infected! It is thought that immunity to the virus may last up to 10 years. The long-term effects of the illness are little known but joint pain and eye disorders are proving common. Ebola patients often lose everything — their family members who succomb to the illness, their personal items that are destroyed in the disinfection process, their place in the community as stigma takes hold. The fight against Ebola is…

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