Liberia is presently a weeping nation.
As I listen carefully to the voices of the voiceless in our nation, I am disappointed and disheartened by the Ebola crisis, which began in early March.
Fighting the unseen disease that is causing calamity in our society is difficult. Every morning I wake up and hear reports about Ebola on the radio.
Before, I woke up to the beautiful sounds of birds chirping and crickets crying under my window.
Now my attention is drawn to radio reports about our Ebola task force and to ambulance sirens.
Ebola has brought concern and tears to every household in Liberia. Yet, Ebola is not only killing people in Liberia and other West African nations, it is also taking away cultural values and traditions that have been practiced for generations.
Liberian culture and traditions make it difficult to speak to an older person without shaking their hands or giving them a welcoming hug that shows compassion and love.
Ebola has hindered such greetings and, to some extent, has worn away some of these customary Liberian practices, especially the bathing of dead bodies.
While it is heartbreaking to see a relative die from Ebola, efforts to limit the virus’ transmission have led to other problems.
For example, family members of those who most likely have died from ordinary sickness are still asked not to bury their loved ones to avoid the possible transmission of Ebola.
Our nation is weeping, not only over the Ebola outbreak, but also from the lack of quality health care facilities, bad roads and the negative impact of the virus on the economy, education and other areas of life.
Since the Ebola outbreak, health workers have been afraid to treat patients of any kind, and major hospitals and clinics have closed. Many people are losing their lives due to poor medical attention and hunger.
No job means no money and no food. Lack of adequate medical care means the death of individuals who likely would have lived before the Ebola outbreak.
At 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, a friend of mine woke me up and asked me to drive the girlfriend of his neighbor’s son to the hospital.
The girl had given birth recently to a baby boy. Unfortunately, there were complications and she needed medical attention.
We took the girl to Redemption Hospital first, one of the major hospitals in Monrovia.
Unfortunately, she was denied, as no one wanted to get in contact with her blood because of Ebola fears.
I drove quickly to the J.F.K. Medical Center, where several nurses told us that there were no doctors to look after the poor child.
After 45 minutes of trying to get help, we decided to visit ELWA Hospital in Paynesville, Monrovia, which we learned was only accepting Ebola patients.
Our hospital choices were now limited, so we decided to check on local private hospitals and clinics in the city.
From 1:30 to 7 a.m., I drove through the streets of Monrovia trying to find a hospital to save the life of this poor girl. Tragically, she died because of the fear of Ebola.
I realized that night that Monrovia is truly vulnerable. Innocent people, like this young girl, are losing their lives as an indirect consequence of the Ebola virus.
Fear and lack of adequate health care is going to be another serious problem that will lead to a significant increase in the death rate if it is not addressed.
I strongly urge the Liberian government to strengthen the health centers, to reopen clinics, to encourage nurses to go back to work for the betterment of the country, to formulate strategies that will help prevent and stop future disease and viruses from spreading widely.
While our situation is difficult, I want to extend thanks and appreciation to our friends and partners in the United States for all the prayer and food support provided to us here in Liberia.
Faliku S. Dukuly is the founder and executive director of Hoping Communities in Liberia. He is a graduate of Ricks Institute and a candidate for the bachelor of public administration at United Methodist University in Monrovia, Liberia.
Editor’s note: Local footage filmed by Dukuly in Liberia and edited by Cliff Vaughn, EthicsDaily.com’s media producer, is available here.