As Sierra Leone goes into national lockdown for 3 days to fight the Ebola outbreak, Kamanda – one of Plan’s global youth advisory members – who lives in the north of the country, describes the impact on his family and community.
September 2014: The Ebola outbreak has overcome and killed a lot of people. Since it was first declared an emergency, many people have become victims, and there is still an increase in Ebola now.
Because it has become so prevalent, the president has decided to put in place a 3-day lockdown from 19 to 22 September to search for people who are sick.
They need to find all the people who are hidden, who have the disease, and the government will campaign to find the people who are sick. The trouble is that sick people have been refused entry by the hospitals, and now are resistant to being found. They are hiding because they prefer to be sick at home.
The campaigners will move through the city and through the villages and towns to find the people who are sick. There is only 1 district now out of 12 that doesn’t have the virus. Many individual houses have been quarantined, and people are not allowed to go out.
Poor struggling to find food
It is affecting everyone, but particularly the poor. We are having difficulty getting enough food, the schools are all shut down, and there are no classes and no lessons.
Some children whose parents have died from Ebola are facing obstacles - including food, shelter, clothing and emotional support. Some people have abandoned the hospitals because they have been misinformed that if they are tested that their blood will be mixed with those who have the virus and they may be perceived as Ebola victims and isolated.
The poor and those who have been quarantined are suffering because food supplies are not getting through to them. Water is also not reaching them. Medical supplies are not reaching them. They also cannot afford to buy extra food for the lockdown.
27 people in my house
As we prepare for the lockdown, people are going to the banks to get their salaries, to try to stock up on food. But the trouble is that the poor people cannot do this. I come from a poor family, and I am staying with my uncle, who normally trades in Freetown, but he has had to stop.
People can die like this. People are wondering how to get food for 3 days, when they have no money up front; even those people who have money are struggling now because food is scarce and prices have shot up.
In my house there will be 27 people all in together for 3 days. I don’t know what we are going to do with our time, we will reflect and pray for this disease to be out of our country.
My uncle left this morning at 5am for Freetown to try to sort things out and get things adjusted for the 3 days. He will buy rice and other foods.
It is also very difficult for my people who live in the villages – I am really worried about my mum and dad because they have problems getting food. At the moment, they are staying a home; they have nowhere to buy food. My dad is sick – he has appendicitis – and we have no way of helping him. I’ve been trying to call them, but I can’t get through.
At first there was a lot of misinformation about Ebola. There are also a lot of scare stories. People in the villages thought the people coming to give information were coming to infect them and kill them, so they ran away. Lots of people ran away.
Now, during the lockdown, we fear that a lot of people will try to escape, and this will make things worse. I am scared my father will go into hiding in the bush, and he is very sick.
I feel afraid. It’s a very frightening situation. Yes, I feel afraid about what will happen in Sierra Leone as a result of this virus.
Plan teams are fighting the Ebola outbreak across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.