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Ebola: ‘Nothing can prepare you for the look in a patient’s eyes’

©IFRC/JariLindholm

©IFRC/JariLindholm

There’s no such thing as a good day when you’re treating Ebola patients, writes Sarah Robinson, a Red Cross nurse working in our Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone. 

Whenever I get home from the Ebola treatment centre (ETC), one of the team members will always ask how my day was. I’m never sure how to answer.

Working in an ETC doesn’t seem to be a job where you can say you had a great day or an awful day. I love my job immensely; the national staff I work with and the patients I care for are all inspiring. I’ve learnt so much from them and I know I will continue to do so.

The multitude of daily challenges we experience make the job interesting and varied. Despite this, when the reply, “I had a good day” enters my mind, the words always stick in my throat.

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South Sudan crisis – staring into the abyss  

©ICRC/JacobZocherman

©ICRC/JacobZocherman

South Sudan continues to slip under the radar. The crisis in the world’s newest nation doesn’t generate the headlines that emanate from Syria, Iraq or the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, yet there are vast humanitarian needs in South Sudan.

It is one year since conflict erupted in the country. More than one million people have fled their homes. So why is the world so silent?

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Ebola outbreak: “I’m good, don’t worry about me”

©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

Sylla Fatoumata’s mobile phone vibrates every few minutes, making the table between us wobble.

Occasionally she glances at the screen and smiles. “My boys,” she tells me, shaking her head and laughing. “They contact me every day to see how I am.”

But Sylla is not a mother. The 28-year-old is the youngest of three sisters and, when the Ebola virus disease crept into Guinea’s capital Conakry, in March, she became the Red Cross focal point for safe and dignified burials in the city.

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Red Cross Ebola nurse: ‘I’m no hero, I’m just doing my job’

©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

Tackling Ebola on the front line is an emotional experience, but I’m glad I’m here, writes British Red Cross nurse Marjorie Lee.

Am I a hero? Not for one minute. I’m just somebody helping somebody else. And people here in Sierra Leone, as in Guinea and Liberia, need our help.

I arrived two weeks ago. The first thing that strikes you is how incredibly friendly people are. Everyone you pass says “hello” or “how are you?”

The manager of our hotel in Freetown kept thanking me for coming. He hasn’t left the hotel compound in weeks, he’s too afraid to go out. He sends people out on errands to get him things.

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Finding and monitoring Ebola infections – video

In this video, a Liberian Red Cross volunteer talks about her work in monitoring relatives and neighbours of Ebola victims.

On average, one person infected with Ebola infects two other people. The disease is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, or indirectly through contact with contaminated areas, such as soiled clothing or bed linen.

It’s vital to trace the movements of those infected with Ebola to find people who may have contracted the disease from them.

The next step is to monitor people who might have Ebola over a period of 21 days – the disease’s incubation period – to see if anyone develops symptoms.

Across Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the Red Cross has traced more than 50,000 people at risk of contracting the disease.

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Typhoon Haiyan – building homes in the Philippines

©PhilippineRedCross

©PhilippineRedCross

One year on from Typhoon Haiyan, the Red Cross is making a real difference in the lives of people devastated by the storm.

Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall, killed 6,300 people and left more than four million people homeless.

Some 1.14 million houses were damaged and 16 million people were affected.

Now the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is helping communities recover.

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Ebola outbreak: victims are more than just a statistic

©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

Francesca Ginnett has just returned from Sierra Leone where she was tasked with making sure essential supplies reached health workers and volunteers fighting Ebola. This is her take on the last month.

So, how was it?

This is the question I keep getting asked. A simple ‘interesting’ or ‘tough’ won’t suffice, but I don’t know how to summarise the last month in a few words.

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