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Living with Ebola

Author: Miriam Mason-Sesay

Photo: EducAid

Living with Ebola

Miriam Mason-Sesay, an English woman who has lived in Sierra Leone for many years and heads up EducAid,  shares below how the Ebola Crisis has affected her life and work and how her faith helps keep her motivated.

"But Miriam you promised.  When will you take us to the beach?"

The little people make me smile as they jump around the EducAid vehicle, on my arrival back in Maronka.

"After Ebola," I reply.

And so I reply to so many much more serious questions these days.  When can all the children come back to school?  “After Ebola.” When can we continue our Leadership Course? When can we start our business enterprises?  When can we go to see other people again? When will volunteers be able to come again?  When can we shake hands or hug again? “After Ebola.” 

Yet each time, we answer this way, we don’t really know what this means.  Is after Ebola in three, six or nine months' time?

We are not all infected but we are all affected

Normal life is on hold.  As people are fond of saying here, "we are not all infected but we are all affected".  There is nobody on our staff whose friends and family have not been touched by deaths.  All our nine school sites have had cases within a mile or closer.  We live abnormally.  We live fearfully and carefully.

Imagine what a relief when, talking to the parish priest, Father Louis, the other day, we realised that maybe there was a way round the rules and, taking advantage of the shut schools, we could start our teacher training outreach programme with some of the RC schools in the parish (there are 38 of them).

In addition, in the last couple of days, we have been able to take big strides towards being able to safely start helping some of the thousands of children orphaned by Ebola, 30 at a time, through an interim care centre and into our residential schools to join our family and restart life.

God can use us to bring glimpses of hope

When there is death and fear all around, when everybody you meet has to be treated with a level of suspicion, when every day there is news of corrupt misuse of Ebola aid and rising numbers of new cases and confirmed Ebola deaths, what can keep us going is the knowledge that in one way or another, God can use us as his hands and mouth and heart to bring glimpses of hope in an otherwise very gloomy picture.

What if there were no positive things to do?  What if there was no hope or love to bring? 

Things would be desperate indeed. Sometimes we get placed in strange places to do unexpected things. I do not find myself aligned with the "Na so God say" fatalism that characterises a lot of the response to difficulties here.  I find myself wanting to be part of what I believe God wants to do: making things more just.

If you would like to know more about EducAid’s work  visit www.educaid.org.uk and sign up for our blog.

If you are in a position to donate, we have two promises: You will surely be making a difference to some of the most vulnerable young people in the world; Because we are a small organisation, we can ensure that every donated penny goes directly to the project and to changing lives in Sierra Leone.

  • This article is taken from the GoodNews Magazine. To discover other great features like this, please click here to subscribe.

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