Giving the best in the worst circumstances; The case for Ebola

In the World Youth Alliance Certified Training Program (CTP), chapter three talks about freedom. In this chapter, we learn about how people maintained and used their freedom for excellence even in the worst possible circumstances. Nelson Mandela is an example of an individual who suffered in prison in South Africa in the fight against Apartheid. Victor Frankl the holocaust survivor did not choose to be in the concentration camp and suffer but due to circumstances at that time, he found himself in Auschwitz and had to do everything with the aim of survival as it was important to have hope and faith in order to make it through the harsh conditions in the camp.

Ebola is one such case where people found themselves in a difficult circumstance as they did not choose to be in the middle of an epidemic. It is not common knowledge and many people especially those who are not from the affected countries may ask: “What is Ebola, where did it come from, and is it dangerous?” I, therefore, give some basic insights about the virus and the heroes who chose to use their freedom for excellence in fighting the virus.

Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes fever, body aches, diarrhea and sometimes bleeding inside and outside the body. It spreads through the body and damages the immune system and organs. Ebola victims usually end up dying from multi-organ failure and shock. This shock is due to the bleeding that they tend to experience from all over their body. The Ebola virus does not choose its victims, anyone can get it irrespective of their status in society. Peter Piot, a Belgian microbiologist known for his research, was the first person to discover Ebola in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A Netflix documentary “The Doctor’s story” explains how the Ebola virus began in Nigeria and sent out measures of prevention and possibilities of curing it. In the documentary, a Liberian American lawyer by the name Patrick Sawyer was the first man to be diagnosed with Ebola in Nigeria. It all started as a fever which with time got worse as the symptoms continued to manifest. The doctors assumed it was malaria but the symptoms were not quite related to malaria, this was on July 24th 2014. The lawyer was in a hurry to leave the hospital as he claimed he had important meetings to attend.

After several meetings by the hospital heads, one of the senior female doctors decided to conduct research on Patrick’s symptoms. As days went by, Patrick’s condition deteriorated, he vomited, had diarrhea and fever and after four days, he died. From his death, there was a realization that this was not just an ordinary disease hence the need for extra care while handling infected patients. Since Ebola is a communicable disease, some of the hospital staff contracted the virus and one by one, they started dying. The hospital decided to have an isolation center that would enable the Ebola-infected patients to get treatment.

The female senior doctor who began the research on Patrick’s symptoms also got infected with the virus and died. She sacrificed her family and her life for the sake of her country. Despite being the one who identified the disease with the help of other medics, out of all of them she was the only doctor who died as they risked their lives to get the cure and eradicate Ebola from Nigeria. As of 20th October 2014, Nigeria was announced free from Ebola, the virus having caused 8 deaths and 20 cases of infections.

As a young African woman, I believe that there is hope for Africa especially with such cases of people who would sacrifice everything for others. Despite the challenges that we face such as corruption, child trafficking, youth unemployment, poor governance, and poor infrastructure, we still have the freedom to make excellent choices. As a WYA intern, I have learned a lot through the Certified Training Program that there is more that the youth can offer our continent. I encourage young people out there to take an interest and apply for the World Youth Alliance internship and the Certified Training Program and I guarantee them that they would have a different mentality about life and contribution they can make to the society.

Published on: February 19, 2020
Written by Mercy Koki, a WYA Africa Batch 1 2020 intern from Kenya.

Do you want to join the WYA Africa internship? Applications for batch 2 and 3 are open here.