A new roof and hope for an Ebola-ravaged family

Published: 15 December 2015 14:44 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC

The four Ebola survivors of the Souma family now live in a newly constructed house in the Dixinne neighbourhood in Conakry, Guinea. Built by the Red Cross, the original family home was destroyed during heavy flooding in June. Their happiness over receiving their new home was, however, tinged with sadness, as they remembered their 13 relatives who lost their lives to Ebola.

"It started with the death of my uncle. At the time, my family refused to contact the Red Cross and buried him in private,” said Moussa Souma. “A few weeks later, his wife died and we were all quarantined. I was the only one who wasn’t infected. My mother and my siblings, as well as other family members, were infected. Thirteen of them died.

“I suffered seeing my loved ones dying one after the other and not being able to do anything. The most difficult part though was the rejection from the rest of the community. Even after the quarantine period, people were suspicious of me. I was stigmatized by neighbours, nobody wanted to have any contact with me and no one wanted to sell anything to me. The Red Cross support after the floods was of great comfort to my family,” said Moussa.

Psychosocial support is one of the five pillars of the Red Cross response to the Ebola outbreak, offered to affected families, survivors and even volunteers to help them cope with their pain. The Red Cross Society of Guinea has reached more than 10,000 people, including 700 volunteers, with psychosocial support.

"We put a lot of emphasis on providing moral support to our volunteers,” said Aliou Boly, country representative, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “They face resistance from communities, and are rejected by their families. To these brave men and women who everyday save lives, we offer psychosocial and quick resilience support.’’

The IFRC’s revised Emergency Appeal in Guinea seeks 56 million Swiss francs to support 12.7 million people with both life-saving and recovery interventions. The appeal is currently 60 per cent funded.