Sarah Foday has been missing for the past three months; at least that’s what her four daughters believe. Rushed out of New Kru Town where she, her four daughters and two year- old son once lived, Sarah was in grave condition when the ambulance took her to the ELWA isolation Unit last September.
“By then, my ma was vomiting and sick from the worry of our father dying,” stated Louise Foday, the oldest of the four children.
All four girls, who range from the ages of 10 to 16 years, are hopeful that their mother will return one day. And from the sad and worried look on their faces, these children are not ready to either hear the truth or accept the fact that their mother could be dead.
“We pray and wish every day that she will walk through that door” Louise added while pointing at her front door.
Sarah’s younger sister Helena Tamba says she has been practically caring for the four children since they lost both of their parents and many other relatives to Ebola. But she admitted that her attention to the four has been minimal because “her tenants and husband have been distressing her.”
Having two toddlers of her own to take care of, Helena feels time is running out for her to continue helping her sister’s children.
“I’m doing this for my sister because I know this is what she would have wanted. But, people living here with us have questioned why I have to bring the girls here. And my husband has problem with it as well. I try to care for these little girls in my own weak way, but the little that I get a day from my husband can’t feed them. So in the day I watch over the little ones, but in the night they are on their own; they have to watch themselves,” she added.
According to the family, the nightmare that they find themselves living out began in August when their father, who was married to two women (including Sarah), contracted Ebola from his first wife.
“Our father was a driver for Aqua Water Bottling Company in Virginia before his death. His first wife fell ill and passed away from Ebola and after that, he was placed on 21 days quarantine along with Sarah. During this period, he used to come to our mother here at the house, but he would never enter inside. I don’t know how it really happened,” Louise, unable to continue, broke down.
According to Helena, during her brother-in-laws 21 days quarantine, he had a car accident with his assigned company vehicle and was arrested.
“He used to move around during his quarantine days, but when he went to prison for that one day, not long after his first wife died from Ebola, the worry made him sick. Then his eldest daughter became seriously ill and was taken to the unit not long after he became ill. The day he was rushed to the unit, he entered in my sister Sarah’s house, and that’s where I heard he started to vomit and she quickly called the unit” she added.
According to the family, both daughter and father lost their lives one week before their quarantine period could end. The four girls, including their mother Sarah and her two year-old son were also placed on quarantine.
“I can remember our mother cleaning the vomit from the floor where our dad vomited that day. But I really don’t know how my innocent baby brother got sick. I only know that the worry made my mom sick, and after she started vomiting and toileting as well, we called them to come for her,” thirteen year-old Anita added.
The children say this all happened the last week before their 21 days quarantine after their father and sister’s death could be lifted, and due to their mother falling ill, they were once again quarantined for an additional 21 days.
“By then we were placed on quarantine twice already, and there was no one helping us. We were so dry and skinny, Aunt Helena tried to help, but her market table broke down because of us,” added Louise, who snuck a look at Helena while explaining.
Tragically, eight days before they were to be taken off their second quarantine, their baby brother became ill, along with Louise. Helena said, “I used to do everything to see to it that he lived, but he didn’t make it, he died right in the house.”
Louise survived Ebola and was released to the care of her sisters after spending close to a month in treatment at an ETU.
According to the girls, they were quarantined for a third time, but this time the girls had lost all hope because now their entire family was gone, leaving them clinging to one another.
“We haven’t received any information from Red Cross concerning our mother and her whereabouts. We have been to every hospital with her picture looking for her, but still no answer,” Anita stated. “We just wish this will all end and she will come home. Mama, please come home okay,” she pleaded.
Meanwhile, Victor, a neighbor who sits and watches the distress that the children are faced with says that he can’t help them, but will speak out about their condition.
“For these kids to eat, either they have to be at their aunt’s door step, or mine. And if we don’t give them, well then, they’ll be hungry all day. The oldest I’m worried about because the boys know she’s vulnerable and are all hanging around. Who will save her from a pack of hungry wolves?,” he wondered.