Last November, a Mom from my neighbourhood died from Ebola leaving a widower and six children behind. I met up with 16 year old Consolée, the oldest girl in the family.
“I don’t know what to say, we still don’t understand why our mother died, we never expected it”, Consolée told me, still shocked by the news. “She wasn’t that sick, but she died while at the Ebola Treatment Centrer”. Consolée’s Mom became infected after she had visited a sick neighbour who was being treated in the local health centre. In the beginning, no one was aware that she had Ebola and it was only a few days later that she was diagnosed.
Consolée’s mother was immediately vaccinated, but it was too late. She was already infected. After four days of fever and vomiting, Consolée’s Mom died at the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC). When Consolée got the news, she went straight to the ETC to retrieve her Mom’s body. In order to avoid any chance of contamination, she was buried in safety and dignity and all the family was vaccinated.
Consolée’s little brother, who is only three years old, was very attached to his Mom and doesn’t understand what is going on. “He cries all the time, and asks where his mother is”, explained Consolée. Since she is the oldest girl in the family, she is now responsible for taking care of her younger brothers and sisters.
“She meant everything to us, but Ebola snatched her away”, said Consolée.
Ebola is a very serious disease. Whenever it strikes, children end up alone or become orphaned, men and women become widowed. More than 900 children have become separated from their parents in the last six months. Ebola also forces affected children to move away, leave school, and stop playing with their friends.
This has to stop. If everyone becomes involved, we can eradicate Ebola and prevent children from becoming orphans. We ask all the partners to come to the aid of affected children by creating spaces for them to play, where they can be comforted by social worker assistants and be like other children again.
Translated from French by Marguerite McMillan