An Ebola survivor here, Foday Gallah, says survivors do not carry the virus; they are just survivors. According to him, Ebola survivors are energetic, ready and willing to work in society.
Mr. Gallah, a first frontline responder in the fight against the Ebola virus, contracted the virus while driving one of the ambulances operated by Montserrado County Representative Saah Joseph.
Representative Joseph’s fleet of First Responder ambulances was very instrumental in transporting suspects to ETUs around the country during the peak of the outbreak in Liberia last year.
He took the ambulances into neighboring Sierra Leone in January where he helped in getting infected villagers into ETUs across that country.
But Foday lamented that survivors in Liberia were being stigmatized and humiliated in their communities.
Speaking in Monrovia on Monday, he said as a survivor, he is using his experience to help others and to rebuild and stop the discrimination of Ebola survivors. He called on the Government of Liberia to provide employment for survivors to make them feel at home.
He said if survivors were not properly taken care of, the country risks social problems such as increased arm robbery, prostitution and street children.
Foday stressed that survivors need to feel part of society again because they are Liberians like all other citizens.
According to him, he contracted the virus last year August in Monrovia, while transporting a four years old boy to an Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU. He said the child vomited on him, though he (Gallah) was dressed in Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, the vomit penetrated an opening in the PPE and contacted his body, thus infecting him.
As a frontline responder, Foday said he tried treating himself with injections, but the fever was very hard to break, so he told his family to stop going around him and drove himself to the ETU for treatment.
He said the little boy from whom he contracted the virus, also survived, but lost seven family members. Foday said while in the ETU, a family member came for the child and since then he (Foday) has not seen him.
By Ethel A. Tweh