Ma Sue loved everything about grooming in the evenings.
“Mama, I want to bathe,” she normally gurgled after every evening meal.
On November 11, 2014, her mother decided to give her a little extra to eat. A plate of steamed plantain, sliced potatoes, seasoned chicken and some left over banana bread from the previous night.
Weighing more than the average three year-old in her community, Ma Sue loved to eat.
After spending months in the hospital when she was just an infant, the treatment center that cared for her insisted that ma Sue should be placed on multi-vitamins; including daily doses of folic acid.
According to her mother, who asked not to be named, she had flourished from a malnourished child who received gasps and frightened stares, to an overweight bundle of joy that everyone now wanted to hold.
While at the table, Ma Sue began to look pale. “Mama, my stomach is full. I don’t want anymore, I just want to rest,” she irritably wiggled under her feeding table.
“What's wrong Ma Sue,” her mother asked,” is your stomach hurting today?” she questioned. It had been months since Ma Sue had the slightest fever, and she was worried.
“I’m sleepy mama, I just want to lie down,” Ma Sue whispered.
Not wanting Ma Sue to cry, her mother says she rushed to the table and quickly picked up her child.
“Let’s go and take a bath. I know you want to get cleaned up. Then afterwards, you can take your rest my love,” her mother cooed.
Ma Sue did not respond, she only allowed her mother to lead her into the bathroom. She appeared so weak.
Once Ma Sue was in the tub being scrubbed, her mother noticed that she wasn’t reacting to the bubbles as usual.
‘Ma Sue, what’s wrong baby, are you okay, you look so weak?” her mother asked.
“I want to lie down,” she yawned as she silently closed her eyes.
Ma Sue was prepared for bed, though half asleep. Her mother creamed her, put on her night clothes and rocked her gently.
‘I love you Ma Sue, sleep well my dear. I’ll see you in the morning,” she whispered as the child finally closed her eyes altogether.
Ma Sue was taken to her mother’s room to sleep that night, her mother says. While cleaning the dining room, she noticed it was just a little after 8:00 p.m.
“I need to get some rest myself,” she thought.
After taking a shower and preparing herself for bed, she knelt near Ma Sue and began to pray.
“Allah, watch over this child who has been through enough in her tiny life. Her dreams are bigger then her age, and I pray that you will see her through them. I leave her life in your hands because she is your creation and you know what’s best for her.”
Unconscious of how tired she herself was, she says she wrapped her arms around Ma Sue and fell asleep.
Awaken by the heat in her bedroom, Ma Sue’s mother noticed it was well after 3 a.m. Confused as to why Ma Sue never woke up for her midnight warm milk, she says she hurriedly ran to the kitchen to mix it.
Upon arriving in her bedroom 20 minutes later, she noticed Ma Sue was still lying in the same position she had left her in.
“Ma Sue,” she called.
There was no reply or any movement from Ma Sue as she lay stiffly on the velvet bedspread that her mother had laid her on the night before.
“My child left me that night just like that. If I had known that Ma Sue was going to die that night, I would have never let her go to bed; to sleep,” she mumbled.
Meanwhile the family, all Muslims, buried Ma Sue right after the Ebola task force ruled out the virus as the cause of the child’s death. According to Ma Sue’s mother, she was born with a sickness that they were never able to understand.
“The doctors told me what it was two years ago, but I never took it seriously because she started getting better. I wish I had,” she sobbed.