A survivor of the deadly Ebola virus disease and driver of Representative Saah Joseph’s ambulance during the heat of outbreak is calling on the government to help conduct a nationwide ‘dollar rally’ to support all Ebola survivors and orphans in the country.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism regular press briefing in Monrovia, Foday Gallah explained that many of the Ebola survivors were finding it very difficult to survive since recovering from the deadly disease.
Ebola survivors throughout the country are finding life difficult especially due to the stigma and trauma with which they have to cope in their various communities, work places and homes, he stated.
“But I believe that government can help to address some of these challenges, including the improvement of survivors’ lives in society,” he said.
“We are survivors and not a virus and need to be treated with care because we can help greatly in the fight against Ebola by telling our own story and experiences. We need the support of the government, various communities, friends and family members if the trauma and stress we are facing are to be reduced,” he said.
If nothing is done by government and its partners to support Ebola survivors and orphans, Foday fears that some of them might likely engage in prostitution, criminality and other unlawful acts that will be harmful to the society in the near future.
Ebola is a deadly disease that usually disgraces people before killing them, he noted, and anyone surviving the disease must be supported in order to overcome the trauma and stress, including the future impact that causes many people to suffer from other sicknesses after recovering from the Ebola virus disease.
“During the height of the crisis,” he explained, “we saw that things were terribly unbearable for our people. People were dying in our hands, others in the ambulance, and we saw some people being denied by centers due to lack of space to care for them.”
Foday revealed that he contracted the virus from a little boy who last August lost his parents and other family members to the deadly virus. He himself had transported them to the treatment center but none of them but the little boy survived the disease, Foday recalled.
“After I dropped some of the patients at the ETU, I received this call and had to quickly get there to bring the patient over, but only to reach there and see this little boy vomiting, with no one to get him out or provide medical support,” Foday explained.
He further disclosed that, “When these people, about seven of them, died, I informed the family that in case of anything, please call me. After two days they called and informed me that the four-year old boy was vomiting and needed medication. And because people were distancing themselves from sick people, we had to do these things ourselves.
“Husbands were leaving their wives for fear of contracting the disease. Family members, too, were also leaving relatives. We saw children who fell prey to the disease in our very presence. We needed to do something to help our people and this was how some of us contracted the virus.”
He said he was confident that together with the community, government and its partners, the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease can be sustained. Foday warned citizens not to be complacent and should not relax until Liberia is totally free of the disease, or announced by World Health Organization (WHO) that Liberia is Ebola-free.
Foday Gallah, who has been described as one of the heroes in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, hailed District 13 where Representative Saah Joseph’s Population Communication International (PCI) and family members are located.