Monrovia – Thirty-one-year-old Ebola survivor Shianeh Beyan now lives as a single mother of five kids.
Report by Henry Karmo [email protected]
Her story is probably more mind grappling than some of the famous stories told about the ugly impact left behind by the world’s worst deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, including Liberia in 2014.
Liberia became the worst affected with more than 5000 deaths.
For Shianeh, every year Decoration Day, a national holiday, is a time for reflection of what the disease caused her.
She goes to the Disco Hill Cemetery, along the Roberts International Airport highway, to cry profusely for her entire family who fell prey to Ebola.
Her husband, his brothers and some of hers and her sisters and other relatives perished at the sting of the virus, which tore through many families in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
What hurts her most, she stated as she wept, is that all of them were cremated with no special graves to decorate on this memorable day, which falls on the second Wednesday of March annually.
She was seen wailing very loudly before the hut, which is hosting drums of ashes and fragments of burnt-out human bones.
As sad as it was, our microphone couldn’t passed her without hearing her story. It was really difficult getting a favorable response from her.
Eventually, she did speak out.
In a hoarse voice amidst sobbing, she told this newspaper that crying out is something she does every year on Decoration Day.
“What will I do? “Who will my children turn to for help? They are all gone — father, uncles, and aunties — what can I do?” she said melancholy.
Shianeh, who resides in the Mount Barclay area, operates a local makeshift restaurant (cookshop) as a means of survival for she and her four girls and a boy.
“All I want is help for their school. They are not in school. After the Ebola, some NGOs came and promised that they would help me send my kids to school but since they left, I haven’t seen or heard from them.
“I am really suffering; nobody to help me and the kids. I need help. Their feeding, clothing and medication are all on my one.”
Her relatives and husband’s, who died from the disease, contracted the virus through different means.
Sadly, her husband got infected from her. She survived and he didn’t.
While Shianeh’s sad story maybe so touching, the Ebola impact is not unique to her alone.
There are many horrendous stories still out there to be heard. Every victim complains of not being reached by both international and local aid organizations.
A total of 11,207 people died from Ebola in the three worst-hit countries, according to the WHO.
Around 43 percent of those deaths were in Liberia, where the epidemic peaked between August and October with hundreds of cases a week.
Also in the cemetery was Margibi County District 1 Representative, Mr. Tibelrosa Tarpoweh.
The lawmaker in whose district, the cemetery and the crematorium are located, had gone to lay wreaths at the entrance of the same hut hosting the remains of the Ebola victims.
According to him, he hadn’t gone there just lay wreaths but to show his respect, too, as he led the struggle to halt the cremation of the dead.
Rep. Tarponweh said the burning of the dead wasn’t just inappropriate but was also against our traditional way of giving our dead their final resting.
He also stated that smoke from constant burning began to pollute the environment for residents nearby on the Marshall Road in the Boys Town Community.
The lawmaker lamented that some of the things that led to the rapid spreading of the disease were the lack of proper information and a very weak healthcare delivery system in the country.
Sadly, according to him, some of those things still exist today and nothing much is being done to fix them so as to avoid or avert any future outbreak.
He stated that he would lobby with his colleagues in the legislature to put into place a system of robust oversight where people will be accountable for their actions in the health sector as some of the deaths were also as a results of carelessness on the part of healthcare providers.
Healthcare workers themselves fell prey to the virus.
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