In Liberia village, shunned Ebola victims left to die

Ballajah - The only sounds in the abandoned Liberian village were the cries of a little girl, shut up with her mother's body inside the family home, starving and thirsty as she waited for death.

Eventually even the girl - 12-year-old Fatu Sherrif - fell silent as she too succumbed to the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging her country and other parts of west Africa.

When AFP visited Fatu's village of Ballajah on Sunday, she had been locked away with her mother's body for a week after most residents fled to the forest to escape an outbreak of the virus.

Belongings lay abandoned around the village, the doors of some homes left open by those rushing to leave.

A few villagers remained, including Momoh Wile, a septuagenarian local chief, who told AFP Fatu's harrowing story.

Ballajah, some 150km from the Liberian capital Monrovia, is at the heart of one of the quarantine zones established in the country in a desperate bid to try to contain the spread of the disease.

Ebola has killed 1 069 people in west Africa since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organization. In Liberia alone, some 670 cases have been diagnosed, with 355 deaths.

Ebola was first detected in Fatu's family on 20 July when her father Abdulah fell sick, Wile told AFP.

The diagnosis sparked panic among the 500 or so people who lived in the village. They called health authorities but by the time a team finally arrived, Abdulah, 51, had been dead for five days.

Begging for help

His wife, Seidia Passawee Sherrif, 43, and Fatu were already sick. Only their son, Barnie, 15, tested negative for Ebola.

The health workers took Abdulah's body, and, according to Wile, told the villagers "not to go near the lady and her daughter".

"They were crying all day and all night, begging their neighbours to give them food but everyone was afraid."

Fatu's mother eventually died on August 10 but the girl's cries could still be heard around the otherwise abandoned village.

The doors and windows to the house were sealed shut and there was no way to see inside.

Reached by AFP on Tuesday, Wile said Fatu had died overnight, still alone, and still without water or food.

The only surviving member of the family, Fatu's 15-year-old brother Barnie, tested negative for the virus but was still shunned by his fellow villagers.

AFP found Barnie on Sunday taking refuge in one of the abandoned houses, alone and scrounging for food.

So hungry

Looking tired and haggard, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and worn sandals, Barnie sobbed as he told his story.

"It is here that I sleep; it is here that I stay the whole day. Nobody wants to come near me and they know - people told them that I don't have Ebola," he said.

"When I am hungry, I go in the bush to look for greens," he said. "That's what God says so I accept."

Asked about Barnie a few days later, Wile said he had no news.

The villagers who abandoned Fatu and Barnie have meanwhile themselves been shunned by neighbouring towns also in fear of the spread of the virus, Wile said.

Health authorities in Liberia - where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared a state of emergency on 6 August - refused to comment on the case.

Aveline De Grandpré 2014/08/14 10:59:31 AM
So... What exactly did the liberian government do with all their funding, the western world and eurpoen had been giving them? Also BMW's? Brethling swatches? Please explain Ellen Johnson? Now... You guys are sitting with your hands cupped out... Waiting for the world to fund you for the Ebola vaccine the smart ass europeans, and westerners. Had been finally working on. And from my understanding. It seems as if they have been only working on it for a short while now. They should've named the suppose vaccine. Lobola. My heart bleeds for those innocent people who had died, lost a loved, and who is still infected. It's Sounds like a virus that not only kills in less than 21days. But a virus similar to HIV and aids. But to me Ebola sounds more painful. But I'd never wish any of the two viruses upon my worse enemies. Yes not even Zuma... Or Malema. (If they are to have it... God have mercy on our souls... They would spread it like wildfire".
Lashante7 2014/08/14 11:02:40 AM
Sad story really..being locked in a house with a dead corpse with no food..barbaric..
James Goodman 2014/08/14 11:07:37 AM
the world is coming to and end
Bongani Nsele 2014/08/14 11:09:45 AM
slums are everywhere in the third world, the multitudes of India bangladesh and rural china living in squalid conditions number in the upper billions why is there no ebola there i am still asking this question, there are worse conditions in Asia and more poverty than you ever imagined compared to Africa, 650million people living with no toilets in India Of the 8 billion on earth today African people ONLY constitutes 6.7% of the world population, that makes us a tiny tiny minority and here i am including African peoples in the whole western world and the Pacific Islands and throughout the history of MANKIND Africans have never been in multitudes, Africa has been known to be a continent of vast open lands going to the horizon, it is still the same today the future population explosion that will happen in Africa will come from non-Africans occupying this piece of real estate known as Africa
Tereza Louw 2014/08/14 11:19:44 AM
A dead corpse? Are corpses not all dead?? Poor child. The people who watched her grow since her birth, are the one's who let her die in agony. How cruel can people be......
David van Tonder 2014/08/14 11:19:58 AM
For me the most schoking part of this entire report is the fact that medical workers left two infected patients to die. What I have read on Ebola indicates that altough there is no known cure, there is a 45 percent survival rate(especially if it is diagnosed early).
Frans Mosia 2014/08/14 11:21:35 AM
This is not Africa that i know. What did the chief do to save the child? May the lord have mercy on our beloved continent.
Craig Lowe 2014/08/14 11:59:29 AM
Sick Sick Sick, We as humans have the cheek to call ourselves superior to animals !!!
Elyas Yakub 2014/08/14 12:14:27 PM
realy a sad story of Ebola victim,world in habit of watching people die and that is more sad too, where is all big head..........heae they dont sawoff.coz its poor blood.
Becky Smith 2014/08/14 12:44:01 PM
shocking, where's our humanity gone?