Ebola killed nearly 5,000 people in Liberia and threatened the lives of 4 million over a period of more than two years.
Now that we are free from the threat of Ebola, we can sit side by side and move freely through normal life once again.
When Ebola first showed its fierce face in Monrovia in March 2014, we had to set aside our plans and, instead, focus our attention on the virus itself as it took more and more lives.
We knew Ebola was in the country as early as February 2014. But it was only when its death and terror came to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, did we respond as a nation.
By late July 2014, we knew we had a crisis. At the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS) compound in southeast Monrovia, we counted about 100 people in 10 households who had to face the crisis.
We committed to care for these 100 folks living on the LBTS campus. Friends in the U.S. came to our rescue, lifting prayers, spreading the alarm and sending money for rice, beans, oil and seasoning so our campus could be secure amid the crisis.
The news of the crisis spread quickly. In Roxboro, North Carolina, our situation struck a nerve.
The Lamberth Memorial Baptist Church became our strong partner and stayed with us (they continue to support us) as we tried to hold back the sickness and death that was widespread in Liberia.
With their help, we survived and became a source of security for other small compounds of 100 or fewer across Liberia.
In the end, what began as a hope to care for 100 people became the reality of feeding nearly 1,000 a month amid the Ebola crisis.
Ebola came with great fear and setbacks for families and communities across our nation.
Ebola was more than a health crisis in Liberia. As the news flamed like a storm looming over the country day and night, life became harder and stiffer for all Liberians.
The Ebola crisis gave birth to many other crises. The economy slumped. People suffered. Health care shrank. Political rhetoric swelled with the sound and fury of pleas for action and condemnations for inaction.
Liberia became, again, a place of uncertainty. The memory of 14 years of violent war was renewed by the reality of a silent killer that took lives and undermined the foundations of our society. Ebola was, some say, an echo of our long crisis of stability.
Amid the renewed crises threatening our stability and survival, we found hope. The small, small efforts to feed the hungry and provide security for those threatened by Ebola succeeded.
LBTS was one of many efforts to respond to the crises created by Ebola. We are happy to have made a difference.
We celebrate the many other efforts in the country that were supported by global groups in our time of need.
Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of lives were saved. We give thanks to God for the compassion of those who heard our cries and responded in tangible ways.
The Ebola crisis was a journey that took us through the silent death of Liberians to a point of hope where we find ourselves struggling with life.
It was a journey that for more than 24 painful months took away some of our families and loved ones. As Ebola disappears from the West African nations, many of the crises it created will continue.
On Jan. 14, 2016, Liberia was, for the third time, declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization.
We hope that this declaration holds. We know that there is great work to be done. The struggle continues.
Faliku Stephen Dukuly is a bachelor of arts candidate in public policy at the United Methodist University in Monrovia, Liberia, and the Care for One Hundred Coordinator for the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary in Paynesville City, Monrovia, Liberia.