IFRC Kenema ETC’s first Ebola patient looks back
Kadiatu Bangura, from Freetown, was one of the first Ebola survivors to be discharged from the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in Kenema in September 2014. As the Ebola virus rampaged across Sierra Leone, the shortage of beds in Freetown required some patients like Kadiatu to travel five hours to access treatment. All of her immediate family contracted Ebola from caring for a neighbour. They were all sent to different hospitals. After almost two weeks away from her family, Kadiatu’s Ebola tests came back negative and she was allowed to return home where she was reunited with her family; everyone that is, except for her father, whose fate is still unknown. Like many families in Sierra Leone, the loss of the family breadwinner is having a resounding impact on the family. Kadiatu recalls her experience and her wish to continue with her studies
My name is Kadiatu Bangura and I am 12 years old. I have two brothers and five sisters; I am the third youngest. Last Monday, I went back to school and was happy to see my friends and be in the classroom with my teacher again. My favourite subject at school is math and when I grow up, I hope to be a lawyer. I want to be a lawyer because I like the idea of helping people.
I feel a lot stronger now but sometimes I am sad because I miss my dad. I have not seen him since October last year when we got sick. We are not sure if he is still alive or is dead. My mother told me he probably died of the same sickness that I had, Ebola.
I don’t remember going to the Red Cross centre in Kenema. I was alone because my mother, brothers and sisters were all sick too, but in different hospitals. I didn’t know if they were alive and I didn’t understand where I was or why. I remember I felt so bad and lonely.
The first time that I saw people dressed in the white suits, I was very frightened – I thought they were the devil. I didn’t understand why they wore these strange clothes. Later, someone explained to me that I was sick, why I was alone, and that the strange people were there to help me get better. I met other people in the centre, some were very sick and didn’t move much. I remember that we listened to Michael Jackson songs and sometimes we danced, even the people in white.
I started to feel better and one day a nurse told me I was going home. I was so happy but I didn’t know about all of my family. On my last day at the centre, I danced to Michael Jackson, got some new clothes, and said goodbye to the Red Cross people and the sick people. I came home in a car. When I got out of the car, my family was waiting. I saw my mother, brothers and sisters, but not my dad. I was happy to be with my family but missed my dad. I still do.
My friends played with me but some people were frightened of us. My neighbours were also sick as well as my family, only my uncle was not bad.
After the hospital, I stayed at home because the schools were closed for months. I go to the market to help my mother, but my mother does the cooking. Before I went back to school, I was very bored. I had nothing to do. I tried to listen to the school radio programmes but my family couldn’t buy batteries for the radio because we didn’t have enough money. A friend of my family helped to buy my school clothes so that I could go back to school, but I know my family has not got enough money.
My dad worked but now we have many problems. My uncle and mother want me to continue at school so I can become a lawyer. When I am sad and missing my dad, people say I must be strong, study and become a good lawyer. My Dad will be proud.