My name is Abdul Conteh. I am a driver for the burial team. Before Ebola came to Sierra Leone I was working.
I was working as a Caterpillar operator, but the Ebola crisis lead to the closure of a lot of places, leaving me jobless.
When we heard about Ebola we were all afraid. I decided to volunteer anyway; I believe that even if God has destined my death here I must fight for my country. I talked to Mr. Manso who is the coordinator for a burial team. He trained me and later gave me a job.
When I started working, all my friends and even my family members were afraid of me, and they stayed far from me. Where I lived at the time, they began to treat me differently and give me new conditions just to get me to leave. I understood what they were doing and moved to another place for shelter, even though the standards were not good. I stayed there while doing this job because at least I had peace. I was in a relationship with a woman but she was not living with me, so I used to visit her using the burial vehicle when I was less busy. When people used to see me they would report me to the head of the community complaining that I was visiting their community in an Ebola vehicle. He later spoke with me and warned me to never use the burial vehicle to visit the community. I agreed since I was deeply in love with my fiancée. Later when the virus started subsiding those who had neglected me in my times of need started coming back. I spoke to them but not with all my heart because they had already showed me who they were.
I lived with some people who denied that Ebola never existed, but God showed them it did. For instance, I had a friend who was always denying it. His wife’s sister contracted Ebola and was admitted. His wife was close to another affected person who later died, and my friend’s wife contracted the virus. He secretly took his wife to his place and she later died. In the end, my friend also died. This scared the whole community into believing that Ebola was a reality. It was really very sad.
We were also working in the holding centres where I never saw anyone survive the Ebola virus. It was a place where people went to die. Within two days people would die, despite them looking strong when they arrived. Even when we are on our way to bury a corpse, we would be called upon and told another person has died. We would even see people who were weak sitting outside and within the twinkle of an eye they would die. Those were some of the scary things I saw.
Some people never believed in the existence of Ebola, if they had believed I don’t think it would have spread like it did.
I hope the government will acknowledge what I have gone through and do something so we are not forgotten. I volunteered to fight because this is a war. I fought and God has helped me to succeed. I have the hope that they would do something for me. Within myself I believe we are heroes, and with Ebola we were able to strike back. We don’t know when we will get another outbreak. They should not have separated us instead found a location and erected at least two rooms and a parlour for every family so in case of another outbreak they will know that we are here and we can defend our country.