Any Room for Forgiveness?
Yesterday I heard a story on NPR about “One Village’s Story: How Ebola Began and How it Ends”, the name of one of the patients I took care of in the Bong ETU, Stanley Juah, caught my ears. His family lived in Taylortown, a village with a collection of mud-brick homes next to a tarmac road about an hour away from the ETU. Ebola besieged this village about a month ago affecting a number of the villagers and four generations of the Juah clan. At one point close to 80% of the patients in the ETU were from this village as the county health department and the ETU ambulance crew went to the village several times to round up exposed sick villagers. It seemed that Ebola began in his village when Stanley tried to hide his son’s Ebola infection and attributed it to “a leopard problem” thus resulting in a number of villagers being exposed to his son who later died. Stanley himself lost four children including the horrible death of Prince who bled from his mouth and his wife who bled from her gastrointestinal tract. The unit was quite full at the time of his hospitalization with additional mattresses being placed on any spare floor spaces. He slept on the bed while his wife slept on a mattress with her son next to him. They all shared a room with Aaron, the patient who struggled for several days with the infection before he finally died. Stanley not only witnessed the horrific deaths of his son and wife but also heard the groans and screams of Aaron from the pain he suffered for several days as well as his passing. It was no wonder that the psychosocial team was worried about possible suicide ideation and that he would abscond before he was clear of Ebola. Romeo, also mentioned in the story, a young man from his village was also admitted into the ETU, he was weakened by Ebola but survived and was quickly clear of the virus. I completed my stint of volunteering at the Bong ETU just around the time when Stanley was finally tested negative for Ebola. There was talk about him not being welcomed back to his village, even being met with hostility. No one knows where Stanley is now. It is not an ending that anyone would wish for someone who lost so many loved ones in this troubled time and yet not being able to go home to find some solace or forgiveness.
I was home for Thanksgiving this year, very thankful to be home with my family after a long six-week of heartrending experience in Bong. I could go home and have a respite but for many of the nationals this is part of their lives at least for now.