November 14, 2016

Volunteers who fought Ebola for Sierra Leone – one year on

This post originally appeared in The Guardian.

During the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, hundreds of people – teachers, builders, taxi drivers – volunteered to support not only those who contracted the virus but also their families.

The work of burial teams was crucial in stopping the spread of Ebola, which claimed almost 4,000 lives in Sierra Leone and more than 11,000 across west Africa.

About 200 people, recruited under a Cafod-led programme, worked on burial and support operations in the northern district of Kambia, often in remote areas.

They risked their lives and many were initially shunned by relatives and friends who feared they would pass on the infection. They were sometimes vilified or attacked by relatives of victims denied traditional burial rites by emergency restrictions.

A year after Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free, we see how the lives of some of the volunteers have changed.


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