Category: Health

Ebola outbreak: the surreal journey home

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©IFRC/JariLindholm

©IFRC/JariLindholm

British Red Cross Ebola nurse Marjorie Lee has returned home to Scotland after one month of treating patients in Sierra Leone. It has been a difficult four weeks, but the 51-year-old wants to go back as soon as possible.

It feels surreal to be slipping back into normal life with all the preparations going on around me for Christmas.

Everything seems so far removed from the challenges facing the people I’ve just left in Sierra Leone. Christmas, I’m sure, is the last thing on their minds.

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

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©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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Finding freedom: Unique support groups help people live with HIV and TB

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A group of men, women and children sit around a table

© Matthew Percival/BRC

On World AIDS Day, see how people living with HIV overcome discrimination and a host of other challenges.

Thousands of people in Kazakhstan are living with HIV and TB. Myths and and stigma about the illnesses can leave them cut off from society. They face discrimination at work, in hospitals and from their neighbours and even families. For many people, just finding a sympathetic ear can seem impossible.

But at support groups run by the Kazakhstan Red Crescent, with backing from the British Red Cross, they come together to relax, laugh and swap ideas and experiences. More

Ebola: dignity in death

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The Ebola outbreak has dramatically changed funerals in affected parts of West Africa.

Mourners have been replaced by Red Cross burial teams, sealed in sweltering protective suits.

Rituals such as washing the bodies of loved ones before the burial have been abandoned. They are simply too dangerous, as the disease is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. This risk remains even after the person has died.

Since the outbreak began in March, Red Cross teams working across Ebola-hit areas have given more than 5,400 people safe, dignified burials. It’s not an easy task, as these photos of teams in action in Liberia show.
A crowd watches as a body on a stretcher is carried from a house
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Ebola outbreak: “I’m good, don’t worry about me”

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©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’

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©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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Ebola outbreak: reporting from Sierra Leone

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©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

Ebola leaves a lasting impression on everyone who encounters it. Here John Templeton, a freelance cameraman with Channel 4 News, recounts his recent experience of filming a series of reports featuring Red Cross teams in Sierra Leone (scroll down to watch the reports).   

Working as a freelance television cameraman means a phone call from a client can quickly lead to getting off a plane somewhere most people would do their utmost to avoid.

Wars, natural disasters and civil disturbances have their own rules of behaviour you must follow if you’re going to do your job well and leave unscathed. It’s usually expensive and difficult to cover such stories, so you had better do justice to the story.

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