My name is Abubakarr Kamara, I am a stretcher bearer in Burial Team 1.
I was a student but in 2012 but I had to drop out due to some unavoidable reasons. In 2014 to 2015 we had the Ebola crisis. Those in the front lines fighting the disease requested people to volunteer, but we were afraid. Not everybody had the courage to join the burial team. But four of us joined.
We only had one team in Western Area Rural. We would go in the vehicle to bury, and when we walked around people would drive us away. We really faced stigmatisation from the community, even when we wanted to buy food or other things. We used to wear protective footwear, and no sooner did they see us wearing the boots would they would drive us away or run from us. We really faced challenges.
What I will never forget is the pain of losing my wife and child in December. I told my boss who asked me to be on my own for the 21 day quarantine. After the 21 days, I resumed burying corpses.
People abused us, blamed us, and accused us of not wanting to end Ebola. What made me happy was when we were taught how to be patient and not show anger easily. I reduced my anger a bit, even in times of grief.
I can’t say all I’ve learnt but I remember during the month of December at a place in Calabatown, we visited a home where everyone died except for just one child. No one could rescue the child. We were called upon to collect the corpses, but those around us told us to first take the child to the hospital whilst his father was quarantined.
At first I was responsible for spraying dead corpses, but now I am a stretcher-bearer. But we have decided amongst ourselves to do it by turn.
I am now a hero. I want the government to do something for us. We have been highly stigmatised, some of us have been driven from home. For instance, I don’t have a good relationship with my father anymore just because I decided to join the Ebola team. So he decided to leave me and relocated to Kambia because he thought I was going to die or transfer the Ebola to them.