The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to spread – with 2,000 deaths and more than 3,000 cases reported. But Tearfund is hearing remarkable stories of recovery and restoration.
Kasereka's is one such story:
Living in Mambasa, eastern DRC, Kasereka is a 31-year-old father of two. One day, he heard that his father had contracted Ebola.
‘I was furious because I didn’t believe Ebola exists,’ recalled Kasereka. ‘I went immediately to visit my dad, but he died a few days later. After that, I also tested positive for Ebola.’
Change of heart
Mwaka Deogratias, who leads Tearfund’s Ebola Response Team in the DRC, says: ‘Some people don't believe Ebola exists because it's a new disease they have never experienced. The first symptoms of Ebola are similar to those of other common diseases such as malaria and typhoid fever.’
'I know this deadly disease exists.'
Kasereka, Ebola survivor
Following the death of his father, Kasereka put aside his doubts about Ebola, and agreed to be admitted to the Ebola treatment centre.
‘I was cared for very well and got healed because I sought treatment early. I was discharged and now I attend the centre every month for a check up. I also receive food assistance.
‘I am strong enough to carry out my daily work as I used to in the past’, he added.
Kasereka knows that the community’s scepticism towards Ebola can contribute towards the spread of the virus: ‘Because of the resistance, 14 people in my family died. I know this deadly disease exists’, he says.
Now he raises awareness of the real and dangerous threat of Ebola. His message to people is that they should seek medical treatment early enough to have a chance of surviving, like he did.
Hearing is believing
After receiving a grant from the US government*, Tearfund has been able to build latrines, washing facilities, and ensure health facilities are better prepared to deal with Ebola cases.
We’re also engaging with communities, thanks to good relationships with faith leaders. Today, important messages about how to prevent, identify and respond to Ebola are being shared more widely.
Since November 2018, Tearfund and our local partner ECC have reached 351,908 people with information about Ebola. This has been primarily through door-to-door visits and in church meetings.
Mwaka adds, ‘Hearing testimonies from those who have been healed from Ebola is a very effective way of convincing the rest of the community of the reality and dangers of the disease.’
Kasereka told Tearfund staff he is grateful to God because he saved his life, and to the Ebola response team for their dedication to this work. Now he won’t stop sharing the important news he has with his community.
Thank you for the testimonies of people like Kasereka, and the positive impact they are having. Please be with those who are sick and their families at this time – bring them healing and restoration. And protect all those who are working to tackle the Ebola crisis.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
*A USAID grant made possible by the generous support of the American public.