The World Health Organization has declared the end of Ebola transmission in Guinea – a huge milestone in the West Africa outbreak. The virus was first transmitted from Guinea in December. 2013 and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone—and later to 7 other countries, including the U.S. The outbreak was the deadliest in recorded history and was declared a public health emergency by WHO.
During the outbreak, the American Red Cross deployed disaster specialists, mapped the virus’s spread, and supported the global Red Cross network w/ other financial and technical support.
More than 6,000 Red Cross volunteers were mobilized. Red Cross volunteers in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea led disease prevention efforts, provided psychosocial support and assisted in the management of dead bodies.
As we celebrate this important milestone, here’s a look at just a few of the frontline Red Crosser volunteers that helped make this happen.
Mamadou Kourouma, a volunteer from Red Cross Society of Guinea was in charge of one of the burial and disinfection teams in Conakry. Despite the danger he is facing every day, Kourouma is not scared. “I could not remain idly and leave my community continuing to die.” His sign reads,” If we don’t do it, who will?”
Siaka Tounkara has been evicted and shunned by friends and family, however, he refused to give up his work to try and rid Guinea of Ebola. “Our work is not easy. With fear, misinformation and denial, our teams are sometimes threatened, attacked or chased by some communities. Many of my friends and relatives are also shunning us, but what could I do? I have Red Cross in my blood so assisting people is natural. I cannot abandon my work now while some of my communities continue to die because of their ignorance. That is why I am resistant to insults and threats.”
Lopou Topou, 20, is a Red Cross volunteer in Guinea. She was attacked by an angry mob while trying to bury a woman suspected of dying from Ebola. Lopou continued to fight against Ebola, even as her family tried to convince her to stop the work. “I am not discouraged. It’s not the time to give up because there is still a lot of fear and misunderstanding, and some communities which have only just been affected by the Ebola virus. They are still not well educated about the disease, so we need to provide them with accurate information.”
To read more stories about those behind the Red Cross efforts to fight Ebola, click here.