Stigma and Worry

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The late Ruth and her daughter Benetta Koon_web.jpg

 

Caldwell- Laurence Doe Innis, the brother of Liberia's latest confirmed Ebola patient who passed away last week, has been experiencing shame and agony.

The late Ruth Tugheh, 44, became ill on March 15 and admitted herself on Thursday of the same week after complaining of a sore throat and body pain. Unfortunately, Laurence was the one who took his sick sister to the hospital before her death. He says that he never knew that his sister was suffering from Ebola.

According to the teary eyed man, it was his girlfriend, who’s name has not been mentioned, that helped the sick woman to sell her market of spaghetti and beans before she could was admitted to the hospital.

“When Ruth couldn’t sell for herself for those four days, it was Laurence’s woman who helped. She would bring whatever she made on the school campus back to Ruth,” added Kelvin, his roommate.

Laurence and his girlfriend are both being quarantined among the more than 80 people being quarantined in and around Ruth’s residence.

Before Ruth’s death, rumor circulated in Caldwell about Laurence, and every day since then, Kelvin says, has been nothing but chaos for the two.

Kelvin, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for Laurence says, “The people in  the house where he lives would not allow him to enter. There came a time they began threatening to kill him and burn him alive,” he added.

Kelvin says he has been actively fighting the fight against Ebola since it entered Caldwell before Ruth’s case. He feels that Laurence’s situation is sad.

“He can’t even go home. I had to call the police the other night because of the chaos in our yard. They said he had Ebola according to one of my colleagues, Paradise, who came to our house to tell them,” he shared.

“But it’s a lie.  So far Laurence has not begun to show any signs of sickness, so what my colleague did was bad,” he added.

According to Paradise, who is an active contact tracer, he says he was not the one to have started the stigma on Laurence.

“The yard says a boy driving a motorcycle gave them the information and since everyone knows that I drive one, they asked if it was me by name, and they said yes. But I would never do that,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Laurence was whisked away to a secret location early last week by an organization that asked not to be mentioned.

“He’s being protected for 21 days until we can figure out how to help him. Now that his sister has died, he was among the group that went to bury her and has decided to stay where we did the burial,” one of the organizers mentioned.

Laurence, who does nothing but cry when he thinks about his family’s ordeal, seems to be in a safe place now.  Everyone in Caldwell has wished the family well and look forward to hearing that no one else has fallen to the disease.

“So far Ruth’s daughter’s second test came back negative and she is okay, but we still worry for Laurence, his woman and the boy who slept with Ruth. We pray all goes well for them,” Kelvin added.

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