What do you miss about life before Ebola?

Everyday people on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak share their photos and stories with the BBC Ebola WhatsApp Information Service.


“I miss my team”


“My whole life was affected by 11 years of civil war. I was in the hottest part of the war. We are just recovering, now EBOLA has also shown its ugly face.”

— David Tamba Ngaujah, Electrical and Electronics Engineering student at Milton Margai College of Education, Sierra Leone

I MISS SCHOOL

Schools in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been closed during much of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Now with cases dropping, schools have reopened in Guinea and are due to re-open in Liberia in February and in Sierra Leone in March.

“Before Ebola at this hour of the day, I and my fellow teachers should be at our evening lessons but now look what we are doing…”

I remember how we use to parade in the morning to school; the group discussions in class; playing football after school; making noise in the dining hall; discussing current affairs at the lecture theater on Fridays, telling stories at night in the dormitories before we all could retire to sleep … I am really missing school;
I wish Ebola will just vanish from Sierra Leone.” — Kansu Mansaray
“I am a university student who was sponsored by my mum. Now she is dead, though not from Ebola, but without paying my first year fees since schools are still closed. Now I am a social mobilizer volunteer in Bo district, southern Sierra Leone.”
— Alhaji Bah
“I miss college. I used to spend eight hours taking lectures at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and four hours a day studying. Now I burn most of my time on social media.”

[CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO BELOW]

One of our BBC Ebola WhatsApp subscribers in Sierra Leone sent us this video of his four-year-old cousin, Kezia Rahman Kamara, saying what she misses most about life before Ebola.

“The most important thing I have missed in this Ebola is my piano lessons/practice. As there is no schooling I have no access to practice nor a teacher to teach me.”


I MISS… GOING OUT

During the Ebola outbreak, public gatherings have been restricted to reduce the spread of Ebola. This has meant the temporary closure of everything from cinemas to sports grounds, leaving many people stuck at home with nothing to do.

“I miss going to the club with my friends on Wednesdays and Saturdays to make new friends and meet with old ones”
— Charles Lamin, Makeni, Sierra Leone

“I remember going to our neighbor trying to watch Arsenal vs Manchester United, because
I am an Arsenal fan, but the door was closed and they never answered.” — Ibrahim Barrie.


I MISS… WORK

Transport restrictions, school closures, and other preventative measures have led to high levels of unemployment. However some people have found new jobs as healthworkers, contact tracers, ambulance drivers and other key roles in the anti-Ebola fight.

“I was self employed as an electrical contractor in Freetown but since this outbreak started I have being jobless without no contract. The worst part of it on 2 November one of my family members got infected with the virus so we were in quarantine for 21 days. I thank God we made it up that all.” — Saio Kamara

“My name is Fullah,
I work at a car wash. Since we received this virus in Sierra Leone,
I have lost most of my customers — together with my friends. We praise God but life is different.”


I MISS… CHURCH

At a time when many have needed their faith the most, restrictions on public gatherings have meant many churches and mosques closing or discouraging practices that involve bodily contact, for example not sharing the peace.

“My family could not join in the celebration of New Year at church as Sunday service had been restricted. My children had almost forgotten some of my family members that we used to meet with during the festive season. Ebola had put a knife in our traditional practices. I come from the northern province. We are accustomed to spending new year on top of a big mountain called Warawara - Ebola stopped all that enjoyment.” Joseph F Marah and family, Sierra Leone

“I am a missionary from Ghana to Sierra Leone. I had to close my church (with close to 100 members) because of Ebola. Even though the church started two years ago, it was making a headway and I am really not happy not doing the work for which am here.” — Ps Jennis LCI Kenema, Sierra Leone

I MISS… FUNERALS

Safe burials has been one of the keystones of fighting Ebola, but dangerous cultural practices such as the washing of dead bodies or illegal burials have continued in some areas. Whilst most people have come to accept the need for the burial teams to do their work, it has not been easy to change the natural instincts that kick in when hearing of the death of loved ones.

Whenever I heard that somebody is sick, it pains me, because I’m not in the position to visit them.” — Ibrahim Kamara Jnr
In Guinea, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Guinea Red Cross are partnering up to implement safe and dignified burials. Courtesy: UNMEER

“As I grew up, whenever people died I always saw family members, relatives and friends coming around to take good care of the corpse by washing the body, dressing it and praying on it, then asking the closest family member(s) to say a few words for both (the late and alive) and pray to meet in perfect place (heaven) again, as the last respect and honour. But for now nothing like that happen, which is very painful to us. That lead to the rapid spreading of the Ebola even, because we found it very difficult to drop our culture though we knew that it’s not good for our health and lives. But thank God we’ve painfully dropped the culture to maintain the law of our government and advice of the medical teams to help end the existence of the invisible enemy EBOLA.” — Komba Thorlie, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I MISS… PLANNING
FOR THE FUTURE

“This is me and my daughter, Adama Ramadan Wormandia. My wife won DV [admittance onto the Diversity Visa program] and we went for the interview at the America Embassy on the 26 June 2014. They called us on 28 October 2014 to say that they will not give us the visa. At that time all the entire world would not accept people from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. For now we are so sad of that.”


I MISS… MY FAMILY

“This is my sister, who died yesterday, I really miss her so much. All of my family has died from Ebola — it’s only me that remains out of six.”

“These are Ebola victims at Rotangbai village in Port Loko District, northern Sierra Leone. Their parents were killed by the E.V.D and they need help. Please help.” — Mohammed Leonean Kanneh, a Restless Development Social Mobilizer

“Before Ebola I used to shake hands with someone I miss most or even hug him but now I am afraid to do that.”

I MISS… NORMAL LIFE

“Ebola has affected my life tremendously even though not directly, the psychological impact of seeing people abandoning corpses on the street, seeing houses empty as a result of Ebola, also knowing that if you get sick you cannot have proper (or in some instances no) medical attention is overwhelming. This is our reality as every day passes.”