Her mum left when she was only a toddler. She was raised by her loving father. Life was okay, until Ebola struck. Susan (not her real name) lost her Dad and since that day her life came crumbling down like a house made of cards in a strong wind.
As Sierra Leone commemorates the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) declaration that the country is free of the Ebola virus Awoko Newspaper visited the St. George Interim Home for Children to have a bird’s eye view about life for Ebola orphans in the home.
At one time, St. Georges housed over 300 Ebola orphans during and after the outbreak. Susan is one of the last children yet to be resettled with relatives.
Susan stood on the porch of one of the annex buildings within the dusty compound of St. George’s, watching the other kids play. She spoke to Awoko newspaper about her life, one year after the end of Ebola. She said, “I’m waiting to be resettled. The other kids have gone and I’m the last one.”
Fourteen-year old Susan struggled with dark memories as she explained what her life was like after her father died of Ebola. She described moving to her Aunt’s house. Through tears, Susan told Awoko about how her Aunt abused her and maltreated her when she went to live with her.
She continued, “While I was with her, I had to do the laundry for other people so I can have launch and transport money for school.”
“One day,” she explained, “I came home a bit late after I finished doing chores for some people. When I arrived home my Aunt threw my things out and drove me out of her home. I was roaming the streets of Freetown when a police officer arrested me for loitering and I was later brought here.” She added, “They are taking good care of me at the home. They are providing food, clothing, medical and shelter although I am yet to start attending school,” she explained.
St. George’s Home Manager, Yemah Conteh, explained, “Although most of the orphans have been resettled with their relations, the home still needs support. After the resettlement we do not just forget about the kids we provide them support,” she said. “Obviously, a family setting and structure is a better environment for a child.”
Conteh further stated that the safety measures learned during the outbreak are still enforced in full measure in the home. The health workers are using latex gloves and the kids wash their hands regularly. She explained that they instill basic hygienic practices in these kids even when they leave the home it would be part of them.
Monday November 07, Awoko 2016