ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Helena's story: How Ebola affected my life

Friday, January 23, 2015 - 13:42

In Clara Town, Monrovia, Helena Nagbe, 41, sits outside her run down home where she lives with her eight children (Doris 4, Paul 7, Michael 7, Prince 8, Musu 9, Paul 11, Cherish 11, and Sarah 12). She is a small goods (food items) trader. Or she was before the Ebola outbreak hit her family and left a trail of devastation in its wake. A single mother, Helena has lost almost half of her family to Ebola.

In September 2014, her father contracted Ebola and within days the virus began to spread to other family members. Helena saw her father and mother died within a day of each other. Not long afterward, she lost her brother and two sisters. Eventually she lost four other members of her family. The remaining family members were placed under quarantine.

One day, during the quarantine, the health team visited the family home to decontaminate it with the concentrated chlorine solution. While they were spraying the house, some of the solution was accidently sprayed into Helena’s left eye. Her eye became irritated due to the strength of the solution. Unfortunately, because she could not go to any hospital at the time to seek treatment, the irritation persisted and has caused complications in the eye.

Helena told us “Now I cannot go to do my business to sustain me and my children because of my eye. Whenever I go outside, my eyes begin to run water and. Because of my eye am not able to do anything in the day, especially when the sun is hot. I am very worried about the future, the condition of my eye and the welfare of my family.  I am suffering. My children are suffering.  

Because of my condition and the impact of Ebola on my family, some people in the community do not want to come around me and the children. They now call our home ‘Ebola house’ because we lost so many family members. It hurts a long – the loss of our loved ones, the damage to my eye and the stigmatization. But I am grateful that some of my family survived Ebola. My children.

I am grateful to ActionAid Liberia for coming to help us with food and other things today.”