1686 - that's my number

Maseray is the second female member of the Bo burial team, supported by World Vision. She joined the team to give back to her community, after surviving the Ebola Viral Disease, which claimed the lives of her husband, sister and another close relative.  

After completing the one-week training course to ensure she is prepared for her duties, Maseray is about to carry out her first Safe and Dignified Burial. “I am ready for this day. I will execute all what I have being taught in the training,” she says.

"As a mother myself, it is really important for me to bury my fellow mother’s child in a safe and dignified way”

Upon getting the alert that her services are needed, Maseray puts on personal protective equipment and helps clean the vehicle that will be used for the burial. After 20 minutes drive from Coronation Field, where the burial teams wait for calls from the command and control centre, we arrive in the village.

As the head of the burial team begins to explain to the community members what is about to happen, I ask Maseray how she feels to learn she is here to bury a baby. “This is even more important for me. As a mother myself, it is really important for me to bury my fellow mother’s child in a safe and dignified way” expressed Maseray.

After the team has spoken with the family, Maseray leads her colleagues to the house. When Maseray brings the child out she holds it as a mother would – with care. Normally the body of an Ebola victim is laid down while the Imam or Pastor says a brief prayer, but today Maseray continues to hold the child.

"I want to give this child a great farewell. I want to walk the child in peace.”

As we tread through the forest to the gravesite Maseray carries the child close to her and walks slowly towards the grave. When I ask later if it was the heat from her protective clothing that was slowing her down she says, “No. I want to give this child a great farewell. I want to walk the child in peace.” As she lowers the child in to the grave Maseray does it slowly and then carefully covers the area with sticks. Finally Maseray takes a peg and puts it on the grave, saying, “1686 - that’s my number”.

Maseray removes her protective suit after burying the baby. "It is really important for me to bury my fellow mother’s child in a safe and dignified way,” she said.

Maseray is the burial team member who carried out the safe and dignified burial for the 1,686th person to be buried in Sierra Leone, after losing their fight against Ebola.