Love in the Times of Ebola

Another update on the Liberian-American community’s struggle with Ebola back home.

Story and photos by Caterina Clerici - caterina.clerici@gmail.com

The Ebola Diaries Part II from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.

New York is safe again. The first Ebola-infected patient in town, Dr. Craig Spencer, was released from Bellevue Hospital and sent home two days ago. We can all breathe again and, most importantly, go bowling in Williamsburg if we feel like it. On the other end of the city though, behind the red bricks of an anonymous housing project in Staten Island, a woman named Martha Monway is still mourning the loss of her sixteen family members who died after contracting the virus – “the Ebola business,” as she put it.

“Once they had something – a stomach ache, a fever – they were taken directly to the hospital,” she continued. “And then, whether it was Ebola or not, they wouldn’t come back.”

And the result is now Martha and two of her daughters who live in the U.S. have to care for all the children that her many brothers, sisters and other relatives who passed left with no money to buy food or medications. An ocean away though, she has no job, nor income, and is part of a diaspora community who can only do so much to help the homeland.

“We are sending what we can to our people at home, every family or group back to its own county. We are also making sure they get rice donated, that we pay for. But we can’t help everyone,” added Solomon Reeves, formerly the vice-President of the Staten Island Liberian Community. “This is just adding more trauma to people who were already deeply scarred by the civil war—both back home and here too.”

Right around the time the UN’s World Food Program stated announcing more efforts to prevent a food crisis in the area, in late October West Africans from all the three countries that have been majorly affected by the epidemic – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – marched in front of the United Nations to raise awareness. Not because we haven’t heard enough about Ebola, but because we all seem reluctant to connect the dots.

See part one here: http://www.citizenbrooklyn.com/topics/pov/killah-hills-10304-no-ebola-in-little-liberia/