My name is Manso Bangura, and I am a carpenter. With this carpentry skill, I had been able to take care of my family. During the Ebola outbreak, there was a sharp decline in income through carpentry and I had a family to run. Therefore, I was looking for other alternative work to secure a better livelihood. At the height of the Ebola epidemic, I enrolled as a cemetery worker at the Pa Loko cemetery Waterloo. Initially, I was a volunteer until later when I was incorporated as a full staff of the cemetery. My work is with the body bag and coffin division in the cemetery. We are responsible to bag corpses and prepare coffin burials.
Based on the fact that this was the first time I worked in a cemetery, I had learnt several lessons. I have learnt the methods of digging graves for the members of the two main religions- Christians and Muslims. For the Muslims, the grave is prepared by deck, there is a shallow depth like a room and this is known as Alwala. Sticks and mats or grass are used to cover the corpse before turning the soil. Sticks and mats or grass are also used to cover the corpse before turning the soil for Christian corpses.
One of my most powerful experiences in working as a cemetery worker was when a corpse that had been buried for about seven days was exhumed for post mortem. It was really pathetic, and I felt really bad.
Despite the challenges that I had faced in working as a response worker, for instance, I could remember when I started working at the cemetery, people were afraid to talk to me, they couldn’t even trade food stuffs with me – yet I worked hard to fight against Ebola. So, I am hopeful that Government will recognise the sacrifices we have made, and our efforts will be appreciated.