Liberia reports a decrease in Ebola cases, but there is one town near the Sierra Leone border that is still fighting the disease. Jene-Wonde is a small town with 300 people, but is the new epicenter of Ebola in the country.
“We are suffering, we are really asking the government and the international community to come to our aid,” said resident Momo Sheriff, who lost a son to Ebola. “If not, they will only say, there used to be a town named Jene-wonde in Cape Mount because we are just dying. It could be me tomorrow, nobody knows.”
He continued: “If the government does not take action, everybody will die in this town,” he said. “We are burying two dead bodies today. We don’t know who it will be tomorrow. Every day we have to cry.”
The town lost 10% of its population since September when a local schoolteacher brought his sick daughter from Monrovia. She later died and her father, along with several family members, buried her in the forest. The schoolteacher and family members, except for one, died seven days later.
Juma Mansaray lost her mother and grandmother on the same day. The women are buried in unmarked graves in the nearby forest with the other deceased. She said the town is “ostracized from the rest of its neighbors.” She is alone to raise her five children.
“Everywhere we go the people will drive us away,” said Juma. “We are like outcasts; we can’t even go to the local market to buy pepper or food because people think we are cursed. We don’t know what to do. Most of our relatives in other areas don’t want to see us … we are stuck here.”
However, outsiders said the town is in denial about Ebola. Abdullai Kamara, team leader of Burial Team A of Grand Cape Mount County Ebola Burial Team, said the people are ignoring advice and procedures put in place to stop the spread of Ebola. The dead are not buried properly and the family members still bathe the dead. His team attempts to help the town, but are constantly chased away.
“There was too much denial here,” he said. “People are dying and we are burying them, but to admit, people overlooked the issue from the beginning. Our people played deaf ear to what was happening. They denied the truth. There was a lot of tussle when we come here when we come to bury. We are facing real difficulties here. Sometimes if the police don’t come with us, we can’t bury here. This is my town, but our people blundered.”