What Goes Through Your Mind, When a Deadly Virus Hits Your Town

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“After Guinea, Sierra Lione and Liberia, Ebola hits Nigeria”. Those were the headlines on Friday the 25th of July.

People always see bad things on TV and they never think that it could happen to them… until it does. Having lived my whole life in Nigeria, I consider it home. While reading the headlines that morning it felt like my whole world was collapsing .

Ebola, the world’s deadliest disease has hit home.

I was so worried and in shock I wasn’t thinking straight anymore. Till today the lethal virus has killed 1350 persons in West Africa including 5 in Nigeria. After having processed the news I started by telling my parents I didn’t want them to go back ( we were out of the country for holidays).

My father couldn’t resist being stubborn, as usual, and claimed that he had work and he couldn’t just bail on it. He went on and on about how he did not risk anything because there was only up till now one case in Nigeria. But he made it clear that for now I couldn’t go back. So, he is protecting his family, and putting himself in danger ? I couldn’t believe it!

This voice in my head kept on telling me “ What if?” and that freaked me out. Looking back at it, I know my father said that despite his fear, he had to go back; he had to work, he had to be able to continue supporting his family financially and he did not care about the risk he had to take. And that amazed me. The next step I took was talking to all my loved ones back home and reminding them to wash their hands as often as possible, to avoid crowded areas and to be extra careful.

What could I do? I was worried. And how not to be when you see the horrible turn the outbreak took up till now. I tried reassuring myself reading as many articles as possible having for titles “ Ebola is not as dangerous as you think it is”. But on one side I had these articles and on another I had the ones with the horrible news and the death toll rising higher by the minute.

One night, having invited some friends over we were playing Monopoly Lagos and I found myself so proud to guide them into the game, into Lagos and it’s beautiful “cachés”. They all seemed to enjoy it and the next thing they all said was: “Wow Lagos seems so beautiful and cool I’ve seen and heard so much about it, I want to go”.

And right there, at that specific moment, I was paralyzed with fear and sadness. Will Lagos be able to maintain its reputation? Will the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria be contained? Will I ever be able to go back home and invite my friends to visit without their answer being negative due to fear of catching the virus?

Yes, I say it again we never realize how horrible headlines can be until we are concerned.

I stand in solidarity with everyone back home and in West Africa. You are not alone, we are all going through this together and feeling with you. And to all those that have lost loved ones to the disease they are simply no words… Nigeria stay strong! And see you soon hopefully.

By Stephanie Hurrington, Regional Intern at World Youth Alliance – Middle East