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  • on 19.05.2015
  • at 02:06 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

The pain of the new normal: Guinea after Ebola 0

Gueckedou – “Life is back to normal, but everything has changed,” said 30-year-old Yawa Keterine Camara as she slowly stirred a boiling cauldron of sauce outside her mud-brick home in southeastern Guinea. “I live again like before, but nothing is quite the same.”

Camara, who lost her husband to Ebola in November, said her life, like many, many other Guineans, is now divided in two: pre-Ebola and post-Ebola, the before and after.

“Sometimes it seems impossible that we are still here, still doing what we did before,” she told IRIN, as she added more wood to the fire. “But here we are. Life goes on.”

West Africa’s Ebola outbreak is believed to have started here, in the Gueckedou forest region, in December 2013. More than 3,500 Guineans have since contracted the virus and 2,391 of them have died.

New cases continue to be reported in and around the capital Conakry, but the Gueckedou region, including Camara’s village, Bellessa, has been Ebola-free since early January.

While this is a point of pride for many in the region, it is also nothing to celebrate.

“It’s true that life continues,” said 29-year-old Gabriel Kamano from Gueckedou town. “But we lost so much [due to Ebola]. “We’ve lost family members and work. Now, there is a food problem developing because people couldn’t cultivate their fields last year. It’s very difficult, but we just keep trying to do the best we can.”

The World Bank estimates that Guinea will suffer $540 million in lost income in 2015 due to the Ebola outbreak. In 2014, rice production fell by 20 percent, coffee by 50 percent and cocoa by a third. An estimated 1.2 million people are now suffering severe food insecurity, the World Food Programme says.

Orphaned children adjust to new families

In most cases, Ebola didn’t just strike a household once. Instead, it sickened and killed multiple family members, spreading from person to person as people cared for their loved ones.

Entire family structures were disrupted as families lost their main breadwinners and caregivers. Others were torn apart by survivor stigma and fear.

“We talk and walk normally as before,” said Saa Sabas Temessadouno, 48, an Ebola survivor and president of the Association for People Affected by and Cured of Ebola. “But people treat us as if we are no longer the same. We’ve lost our work and our social support systems.”

Continue reading on IRIN News

by Jennifer Lazuta

Photo credit: Oxfam

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