Nine year-old Arthurline Quinah, an Ebola survivor and orphan from New Kru Town, believes all the hopes and dreams that her late mother had for her future may have gone with the wind.
An uncle, who asked to stay unidentified, says a lot of Arthurline’s future looks bleak because of the death of her single mother, Nickey Nagbe, and two other relatives that were swept away by Ebola.
“My ma loved us a lot and always dreamt of us having quality education and a brighter future. Before Ebola carried her away, she always spent her last on our education,” Arthurline says.
According to the distressed child, who responded shyly to questions posed by the reporter covering this story, the year 2014 is a year she will forever remember in her life. It brought on a painful memory, death and separation that she will “Never forget”.
“The loss of my mother is bad for me and my two year-old sister Bernice Mendes, who was not around during the sickness and death of our mother. Since then, hope and happiness has been out of my life. Losing my mother, sister and grandmother all at once is the saddest thing that has ever happened to me,” she said sadly.
Arthurline says her hope for 2015 is to be strengthened by her loss as each day passes by, adding that her final prayer is that Ebola will be out of Liberia by the end of December 2014.
“This will happen if we are careful to stay Ebola free by washing our hands and doing other things to stop the spread. Ebola has caused too much pain. Whenever I hear that Ebola is around or even its name, my starts to beat,’’ she said.
Arthurline says she is an Ebola survivor, adding that she contracted the virus from her mother who became ill after complaining of a toothache.
“My mother suffered from a toothache one morning and a woman I don’t know gave her country medicine. After she finished taking the medicine, she started vomiting,” she said. “My mother was one of those who used to console the families of people who died of Ebola,” she said.
Arthurline lost her grandmother Sophia Doe, who she says used to work in the sanitation department at Island Clinic. According to the child, when her mother Nickey became ill, there was no space for her at Island Clinic. And so Sophia, her younger sister Beauty and Arthurline began taking care of her at home.
‘’We began treating her at home but it was no use. My grandma decided to take her to Redemption Hospital. But while we were taking her to the hospital she fell down at the doorstep and passed on‘’, Arthurline said tearfully.
Before ma Sophia’s death, she is said to have taken her two grandchildren, along with herself, to Island Clinic for medical checkup, after coming in personal contact with the late Nickey.
“We were told to come home because we were not showing any signs or symptoms. Days later, my little sister Beauty passed away at home,” she said. “My grandmother and I were then taken to Island Clinic where my grandmother passed away.”
Arthurline was cured of the virus and released. Her father Arthur Quinah, who lives in Nezoe, is said to have abandoned her and her family before their tragic event. So she had no place to go.
“During the illness of my mother we never saw him. He didn’t even visit us at the ETU. Since I was released from the Island Clinic ETU on November 22, 2014, I haven’t laid a single eye on my father. I don’t know what has happened to him in the past three months,” she said.
Arthurline has found a home living with her uncle, a man she says tries “hard to make sure that we are okay”. But she says he is facing financial problems.
“He’s taking care of the six of us and preparing to send us to school. But it will be a big problem. He told me that if he gets any money, he will send me and my little sister to school,” she said. “I know when he gets help and finds a job, my life will get better; the pain that I’m feeling will go away. My uncle says that time heals. I am looking forward to 2015,” she concluded.