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.
Survivors 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 long and hard and doesn’t end with a negative test result. These women will remain in my thoughts and prayers.