13-year-old Jennette* who told us about her experience with Ebola. She offered us a seat on a log in front of her mother’s house; neighborhood children, curious about the arrival of strangers, stopped chasing a chicken and gathered to watch.
“I was about to finish 6th grade in Guéckédou when Ebola struck. When my grandmother got sick, she asked me and my aunt to help take care of her. I would clean up the vomit and blood and wash the soiled bed sheets.”
“When she got worse, my grandmother was taken to her home village to receive better care. She died on the way. After the funeral, I started to feel sick. I had a fever and began to have diarrhoea and vomiting.”
Jennette and her family were taken to the nearby Ebola treatment centre. Once admitted, Jennette tested positive for Ebola as did her sister and mother who had also contracted the disease during the funeral.
“We were housed five to a room – which I shared with my sister – and one person per bed. They gave us medicine to swallow. Sometimes we received visits from our brothers who were covered head to toe in protective gear. In our room one person died,” she recalled.
“After 23 days in the treatment centre, I was declared cured and released. Despite being healthy again, I could not be happy. I have neither my maternal aunt nor grandmother, as they were all killed by this disease. Ebola has taken seven members of my family. I thank God that my mother and my sister were saved.”
“I’ll have to be helped because it was my grandmother who did everything for me and I cannot return home with my [paternal] aunt who threatened me a lot when I was sick. So far she has never asked about my fate.”
Faced with stigma from her own aunt who kicked her out of her house, Jennette broke down in tears when speaking with us.