The stories still hard to find: The local responses to Ebola

This morning when I googled “local response” + “ebola”, here’s some of the headlines I found:

Christie activates statewide New Jersey Ebola preparedness plan

Florida: County and hospitals prepare for Ebola

As KU Hospital tests patient with Ebola-like symptoms, Lawrence agencies coordinate response

Denton City Council to be briefed on virus response

Ohio residents fear Ebola precautions could prompt panic 

Patrick Poopel holds his certificate that informs the world he is Ebola free in Monrovia in September. Photo: Morgana Wingard / MSF
Patrick Poopel holds his certificate that informs the world he is Ebola free in Monrovia in September. Photo: Morgana Wingard / MSF

Not exactly what I was looking for. With all this drummed-up fear and stereotypes and prejudice flying around, I guess it’s easy for Americans to miss that Nigeria has been declared ebola-free, as was Senegal on Friday. And it’s easy to miss stories of people fighting the disease, like survivor Alhassan Kemokai in Sierra Leone who caught it while caring for his ailing mother, independent ambulance workers in Monrovia, or 6-year-old Patrick Poopel (pictured) whose smile who the only thing left that is infectious. Nursing student Fatu Kekula saved her father, mother and sister by inventing her own protective gear from trash bags. Apparently international aid workers heard are now teaching her “trash bag method” and to others who can’t get into hospitals.

This is more of what I was looking for, but these stories are unfortunately often hard to find. So I thought I’d share a few others on the local response to Ebola that I’ve been collecting since the outbreak hit the international media – please share any others in the comments:

  1. Making Sure We Give Credit Where It’s Due in the Ebola Outbreak, by Ashoka Mukpo
  2. The Hidden Heroes Of Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, by Jina Moore
  3. Ebola must be fought from the grassroots, by David Norman and Saran Kaba Jones
  4. The Rain after the Drought: Ebola, International Assistance and Community Initiatives in Liberia, by Charles Lawrence
  5. The West ignores the stories of Africans in the middle of the Ebola outbreak, by Ishmael Beah
  6. Ending Ebola: Weak Systems, or Strong Communities?, by James Fofanah
  7. Liberian Ebola Survivors Return to Help the Sick, by Heidi Vogt
  8. Ebola: the story of the Sierra Leone diaspora response that no one is telling, by Katherine Purvis
  9. Ebola: A new way to learn what’s going on from experts, journalists, and locals, by Karen Eng
  10. The greatest coping strategy is helping others: a conversation with Liberian activist B. Abel Learwellie, by Bryan Farrell
  11. Sierra Leone’s Ebola battle is being led by local talent that deserves our support, by Tom Dannatt
  12. The Answer to Ebola: a Funder Makes the Case for Community-Driven Action, by Libby Hoffman

Is Ebola in West Africa due to a “crisis of governance” or “the scourge of inequality” or “the ugly face of a global aid system that is broken“? These questions are an abstraction to those who are facing sickness and suffering this very day.

Malonga Miatudila, MD, who was part of the first team that dealt with Ebola first in 1976, describes how they contained the disease without the knowledge we have today: “Engage with communities. Give them the leadership of the fight…International experts are there to support local communities, and not to substitute.”

Here’s what you can do:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~Fred Rogers

Look for the helpers. Reach out. Invest in those that are there for their communities, whether outside funding is available or not.


  1. Pingback: The stories still hard to find: The local responses to Ebola | Ebola Stories

  2. Pingback: Ebola: the Generalized Lie | Africa Freak Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *