Liberia 4th Ebola Survivors Camp
April 10-12, 2015
The 4th Ebola survivor camp was held in central Liberia and it brought together almost 200 survivors from Monrovia, northern and central Liberia. Survivors from Lofa in northern Liberia traveled between nine and eleven hours on bumpy roads to get to camp. It was a difficult journey traveling by road through the jungle and the vehicle broke down on several occasions. Transportation is a huge challenge, especially in the rural parts of Liberia. It was an exciting moment when the buses with survivors and leaders entered the camp facility.
Francis is one of the survivors from Lofa County, an area that borders Guinea and was the location of the first reported Ebola case in Liberia. Lofa County was an epidemic “hot zone” with the highest death toll across Liberia. Francis is 16 and lives in a small town that was hit hard by the virus. He contracted Ebola when he went to visit his sick friend in the neighborhood. A motorcycle rider from his town got the virus through a passenger while riding commercial transport in another region and then passed it to others. Motorcycle is a major means of transportation in most rural parts of Liberia. When the virus outbreak started, people in Francis’ village believed it was witchcraft responsible for Francis friend’s sickness. They sent for the best local witch doctor who claimed he had power to heal any sickness. Francis and others had contact with his friend before the witch doctor arrived. The boy died a day after the witch doctor got there. The witch doctor also felt sick and he died a week later. The number of deaths continued to increase and 25 people died the village. Francis lost his mother, brother and close friend to the terrifying virus. Francis said he lived with trauma, pain and grief since his recovery. He said he experienced freedom at Young Life camp after he said YES to Jesus and he believes that camp is the best environment for young people to have a relationship with Jesus.
Aminatta lives in Barkidu, a town in Lofa County that is predominately Muslim. The town had more than 90 deaths within a month during the Ebola outbreak in Lofa. This tragedy began when the Imam (or Muslim leader of the village) got sick. Aminatta’s parents visited the Imam often during his illness. When the Imam died, Muslims of the village washed his body and performed rituals. Each of his followers touched the water as part of the ritual but never thought about Ebola until after his burial when people started getting sick and dying. After a few days, it was too late; the virus had spread to more people including Aminatta’s parents. Aminatta came down with virus through her parents. Aminatta’s mom, father, sister, uncle and cousin all died from Ebola. When she came to Young Life Survivor Camp, she said it was her first time to be among a group of such loving and caring people. The camp helped her to know the truth about Jesus. The speaker’s message touched her and Aminatta said yes to Jesus and promised to keep Him in her heart. She told her leaders that if she revealed that she accepted Jesus, her aunt and the rest of the town would oppose her. Pray for Aminatta that the Lord will use her as a point of contact for transformation in her house and village. With God all things are possible!
At the end of Ebola Survivors Camp, survivors left feeling hopeful and loved again. The stigma, trauma, rejection and terrible experiences encountered by these survivors were all replaced by the love demonstrated to each of them by our fearless Young Life leaders. And survivors heard the greatest message of God’s love and plan for them–it was certainly an awesome experience. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us and supported us in the fight against the invisible enemy (Ebola).”
– James Davis, Young Life Regional Director
(Note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the campers.)