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Sierra Leone: Surviving Ebola

By Kathryn Reid
Jan 11, 2015

Anela, a 37-year-old nurse in Freetown district, Sierra Leone, remembers how she contracted Ebola.

A patient came in. "He knew he had the virus; he said it himself," Anela says.

Her diagnosis in September set in motion a series of events with troubling consequences as 22 nurses where Anela worked contracted Ebola and were sent to area treatment centers.

When she was hospitalized, her family was told to leave their home. Family members took her children to their home village. At first they were shunned. Fortunately, they have been healthy and virus-free.

But Anela was cut off from colleagues, family, and friends who weren’t able to visit her because of travel restrictions meant to curb the spread of the disease.

Her home and everything in it was sprayed with disinfectant.  “It’s all spoiled now,” she says, and they have to start over. With the economy suffering, it will be hard for her family to begin again.

But at least she has a new beginning. Of 22 nurses who got Ebola at the same hospital, “I am the only survivor,” says Anela.

Lifted up by prayer

Alone, ill, and fearful during her ordeal, Anela nevertheless found sources of strength.

Colleagues from the hospital where she worked sent medicine, visitors, and provisions. They called to tell her she must not lose hope and, that they were praying for her.

The calls made her happy, “because I know I belong somewhere,” she says.

Her pastor and church members—“they knew me, all of them,” she says—prayed and fasted for her recovery.

She prayed: “Let me just respond to treatment and whatever they are telling me. Let me just respond, and I will be fine.”

Unlike more than 350 health workers in West Africa, including the 21 other nurses from her hospital, Anela recovered. Unlike many Ebola survivors and orphans, she has been blessed to find love and acceptance in her family and church.

A week after being discharged with a certificate that showed her to be Ebola-free, Anela gave her testimony before the congregation that had prayed and fasted on her behalf. “Some were crying, some were jubilating with me,” she says.

After church, she says, they came closer to her and said, “God bless. We thank God, because without God, we would not have seen you [again]. But by the grace of God, we are happy now to be with you.”

Working together, governments, health care providers, religious leaders, and humanitarian organizations like World Vision can turn the tide on the West Africa Ebola outbreak.

“We appreciate the church and the religious people," Anela says. "We appreciate World Vision. because they are doing their level best."

“We have fought this battle, and God saved our lives,” she says. “We hope and pray that this Ebola virus will get out of this country so that people will be free.”

--Video by Bruno Col, edited by Nathan Shain, World Vision staff

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