Early in the days of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, there was little education on how to stop the spread of the disease. So when 17-year-old Assatu’s mother and 6-year-old sister became sick with Ebola in Liberia, she cared for them at home. Misinformation circulated that hospitals made people even more sick who had Ebola and that getting care at home was better. Many people didn’t know that without proper protection, Ebola is easily transmitted by contact with a sick person. The consequences were catastrophic.

Assatu’s doing housework in her home in Liberia.
Little Shally was a baby when she was infected with Ebola. Thankfully, she and her mother survived, but they both still struggle with painful aftereffects.

Assatu’s mother was eventually taken to a local Ebola care unit where, tragically, she died. Her young sister died on the way to the Ebola care unit. This loss — both mother and sister — is unimaginable. But her family’s struggles were not over. Assatu was a mother two young children, ages 3 and 1, and was about to fight for her own life.

Soon, Assatu and her baby daughter, Shally, became infected with Ebola. Assatu was taken to an Ebola care unit in the capital of Monrovia, where she spent two months fighting the disease. Then she was transferred to a unit closer to home, where she was gratefully reunited with her daughter, who was still in her own fight with Ebola.

Surviving the deadly virus

Miraculously, both Assatu and her daughter survived. But like many other survivors of Ebola in Liberia, they both continue to have significant lasting effects of the disease. Physical ailments can continue in patients who manage to survive the initial disease. Assatu is in constant pain. Her joints hurt and walking is painful. Young Shally gets sick easily and becomes anemic.

Two years after the beginning of seeing Ebola in Liberia, continued vigilance against the disease is critical.

Because of your support, Medical Teams International has been working hard in Liberia for over a decade, strengthening health systems throughout the country. Community education is largely recognized as the most effective way to prevent future outbreaks of Ebola in Libera. Ebola cases occur periodically but education and prevention stop individual cases from once again becoming a disaster.

Assatu’s, a resident in Liberia, suffered as an ebola victim who survived, unlike many of her family members.
Assatu works hard to care for herself and her daughter after Ebola. Thank you for being part of her community to bring better health to everyone.

With her mother’s death, there is no one to care for Assatu and her children. Her support system has been destroyed. Prior to the Ebola in Liberia, Assatu enjoyed going to school — she was a good student. She would like to be in school again but has no way to afford her school fees. Her life has forever been changed by Ebola.

This is the story of just one family’s experience with the epidemic of Ebola in Liberia. It touched every element of their lives, and their entire future. Immense numbers of families in Liberia faced similar tragedies — and it will forever change their lives.  

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