38-year-old Nancy lives in World Vision’s Tikonko Area Development Programme in Bo District, southern Sierra Leone. She’s just lost her husband to Ebola and is now experiencing life as an ‘Ebola widow’.
The Ebola epidemic has orphaned thousands of children and left many widows and widowers in its wake.
Ebola has orphaned thousands of children and left many widows and widowers in its wake.
Nancy’s late husband was a 50-year-old teacher of Religious and Moral Education. He left three biological children - Baindu, 18, Mohamed, 15, and Hawa, 8. But that’s not all.
"Aside from taking care of our own children, my husband and I were also caring for three orphans from my late husband’s village. From his meagre salary and my petty trade we were able to survive. But Ebola has taken him away from us. I am alone now. There is nobody to help," Nancy says, adding; "Before this Ebola trouble I used to sell food items in schools and children would buy from me. But now schools are closed. And I have used up the little money I had put to one side."
"Ebola has taken him away from us. I am alone now. There is nobody to help"
Nancy believes she was saved by a miracle. "When my husband fell ill, all the signs pointed to Ebola. We heard about what signs to look out for from the radio and from the people who came to sensitize us. From that moment on my husband kept his distance until he was confirmed positive," she says.
Nancy’s household was quarantined for 21 days. She likened the quarantine process to being in prison and the loss of freedom this entails. "When my husband died, medical people and armed policemen came to our house informing us of the quarantine process. Staying in one place all day long is confusing and difficult. We hadn’t prepared for it. There was no food at home, no money at all. We didn’t have a cent at home," she explains.
World Vision has been helping quarantined homes with food like rice; oil; dried fish; onions; salt, pepper; seasoning, and buckets with soap and chlorine.
"Things have been very difficult for us. The food stuff given to us by World Vision is the only thing we are living on now, and we will soon run out of food in the house. This means additional headache for me. I don’t even know where to start all over again," she mentions.
"Things have been very difficult for us. The food stuff given to us by World Vision is the only thing we are living on now."
Nancy’s brother-in-law, her husband’s elder brother, also died to Ebola leaving twelve children and a wife.
"I will never forget Ebola. It is responsible for my being a widow today. Dying was the last thing I expected from my husband. Since my husband died, neither my relatives nor his have come to sympathize with the family as it used to be before Ebola came. The only thing that gives me joy now is seeing my children being strong and alive to tell this sad story," says Nancy with tear-filled eyes.
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