Juliana lost her mother, husband, sister and son to the Ebola virus that has ravaged Sierra Leone. As she lay in a hospital bed in the southeastern city of Kenema last July, Juliana thought she would follow them. But she survived Ebola—and the stigma that often surrounds it—and landed a job as WFP Logistics Assistant.
Today she dreams of continuing her studies and becoming a nurse like her mother. Her story reflects the courage of a nation that continues to fight the deadly virus:
"My mother was the first person to die, on 19 July at sunset. Then my son died on 31 July. The next day, my sister died at 2 p.m., sharp. And my husband died on 19 August. He was the last person in my family who died on me.
For three days, I sat in a room by myself, crying. I thought: "If I don't have my mother with me anymore, what will become of me?"
My mother was the first one to get Ebola. She was a nurse at the government hospital. That's where she got it. She became very sick. She couldn't walk. She died a few days after being admitted for treatment.
Then my younger son, Emmanuel, became very weak. I also felt sick. I got tested at the government hospital, and they told me I had Ebola. So I was admitted with Emmanuel. He died in my arms. He was 11 months old.
When I entered the hospital, I wasn't confident that I would make it out alive. Later, my husband was admitted as well. They discharged me a few days before he died.
The nurses and doctors told me not to be discouraged. But when I got out, people looked at me with dark faces. They did not want to see me in the community. They mocked me. They said that because I had had Ebola, I was no longer a human being. I told them, ‘Ebola is a sickness. And I don't have Ebola any more.'
In September, I joined WFP as a Logistics Assistant. I like the work. The job helps take my mind off the trauma of my sickness and of losing my family. Laye Kourouma, who heads our Kenema office, has been like a father to me. And my colleagues have really helped me to be happy and have hope again.
Today, I'm happy and I'm earning a living. My surviving son Alie and I can count on a daily meal, a comfortable place to sleep and clothes to wear. And I'm accepted again. People now come close to me, because they saw that I was accepted by colleagues at WFP.
I'm hopeful that my country will win against Ebola. Now, people know about the disease and how to prevent it from spreading; like not touching the sick or washing dead bodies. Instead they call the emergency hotline and health workers to do the job.
When school reopens, I will send Alie. He's six years old. I also want to go back to school this year. I want to become a nurse, like my mother, and to save people's lives."