The Ebola epidemic is one of the worst things to happen to Sierra Leone after corruption and the eleven-year civil year. The Ebola epidemic of started in 2014 in West Africa was the largest in history, resulting in over 28,000 infections and more than 11,300 deaths across Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Sierra Leone had nearly 4,000 deaths, the second-highest after Liberia (4,808). The epidemic was a devastating public n health crisis for developing countries like Sierra Leone. This devastating and unprecedented epidemic left hundreds of young Sierra Leoneans like Mamusu Dumbuya, now 24-year-old who lost 21 members of her family including both her parents, homeless and orphans.
Mamusu Dumbuya, a school-going pupil at that time, was 16 years old when she lost 21 of her family members to the Ebola epidemic including her parents and was left with three young kids to take care of; her biological younger brother, cousin, and adopted sister. Mamusu, now age 24, and one of the thousands of beneficiaries of Caritas Human Development and Relief Programs and an Ebola survivor narrated her story during Caritas’ Strategic Plan 2022-2026 Launching which took place on the 22 April 2022 at De Kona Lodge Hotel, King Street, Freetown.
Mamusu started to take care of her three siblings. Life was tough and rough for Mamusu. She couldn’t continue with her schooling because she had no one to take care of herself and her siblings. So she decided to drop out of school and concentrate on taking care of her siblings. At a very young age, Mamusu became the breadwinner of her remaining family. She hustled day and night; through rainy and sunny days just to put food on the table and ensure that her three little siblings are okay and well taken care of.
The moment of liberation arrives when Caritas Sierra Leone went to Mamusu’s community, Kuntolor, to distribute food items to Ebola survivors, a project funded by Caritas Germany. This was when, according to Mamusu, she came in contact with Caritas Sierra Leone; a moment that changed her story from anguish to unbridled joy. Mamusu saw the truck carrying the food items by Caritas set to be distributed to people in her community. She went to them and asked in Krio “wetin una dey do na ya”? They told her they are there to distribute food items to Ebola survivors. Mamusu told the Caritas Sierra Leone team present at the scene that she is an Ebola survivor and asked for her name to be included in the beneficiary list. As a listening organization that has helped hundreds of Sierra Leonean women, children and people with disability, Caritas Sierra Leone supplied Mamusu with enormous food items; two bags of rice, boxes of maggies, gallons of palm oil, and five bags of coal – which she used some to feed her three siblings and some to sell to save money.
Mamusu, as a beneficiary of Caritas Sierra Leone, through the items that were to supply to her, has now become a small scale entrepreneur. Through Caritas Sierra Leone, Mamusu continues to take care of her young ones by fully paying their school fees and taking care of their school needs and also runs the small home in which they are living. She is now partially able to take care of her needs and that of her younger ones. She went from that teenager who lost 21 members of her family to the deadly Ebola disease to that woman who has become the sole breadwinner of her younger siblings.
It is not as easy as one would think especially for a 16-year-old who lost 21 of her family members from the claws of a deadly viral disease that left thousands dead and many fatherless and motherless. Despite losing almost all her family members including both parents, Mamusu didn’t give up. She fought through it and stood by her siblings all through. Her resilience and perseverance in such a difficult time is something we all should learn from. Mamusu shows the true spirit of a Sierra Leonean. A country that has undergone the scorches of war; the agonizing torture of nature that killed hundreds of Sierra Leone; and the arduous corrupt practises of government officials that have wrecked the rich West African countries.