1,000 Ebola survivors in the DR Congo

Oct 4, 2019

One thousand people have survived Ebola and returned to their communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

One of them is 24-year-old Kavira Kaviavu Matumaini. She got treated at the Ebola Treatment Center of Katwa, Butembo, in North Kivu, where she stayed for one month. “I never thought I would make it at first but now that I am cured, I want to go back to my community and tell them to seek treatment early if they are affected, because you can actually survive,” Kavira said.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

After she was cured, she decided to join the Butembo child care centre, supported by UNICEF, as a lullaby singer. “I love the community and it feels like a family here”, she said.

The outbreak, declared on 1 August 2018, started in North Kivu and has since spread to other provinces. The epidemic is evolving in an extremely complex environment, marked by poor health infrastructure, political instability, insecurity, community mistrust and resistance, and ongoing conflict involving scores of armed groups. Through an integrated UN system-wide approach, the United Nations scaled-up its efforts in May in support of the government-led response in the areas of public health, assistance to Ebola-affected communities, political engagement, security and strengthened financial management.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

For example, Uruguayan Peacekeepers as part of MONUSCO ensure the daily security of local communities and enable the Ebola response team to travel safely and continue their work.

“Every survivor gives us reason and motivation to continue to enhance our fight against Ebola, but every survivor is also a reminder that there are lives we were not able to save”, David Gressly, Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator, said. “We have to continue gaining access through improved security for health workers and populations alike, along with continuous efforts to engage communities to be empowered with the response. We cannot win the battle against this outbreak without the full support of the Congolese people,” he added.

Photo essay:

UN Photo/Martine Perret

Kasereka Miyisa Jophet is an Ebola survivor from Butembo in North Kivu. His mother, wife and son all lost their lives to the disease. He and his father tested positive and were cured after 17 days in the Ebola Treatment Centre. Since then, Kasereka has been working as a lullaby singer at the child care centre.

Read his story in his own words here:

United Nations Peacekeeping

UN Photo/Martine Perret

Mwamini has been a nurse for almost 20 years and decided to join the Ebola response team when the virus spread to her community. In the village of Mataba, near Kalunguta, the community had traditionally been opposed to the Ebola response. The recent confirmation of several cases has increased the community flock to the vaccination station where Mwamini works.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

Children separated or orphaned by Ebola in the DRC have received care and support from UNICEF and its partners at the Katwa child care centre in Butembo, North Kivu, DRC. The centre cares for children whose parents are receiving treatment in an Ebola treatment centre. One of the care workers is Kiombwe.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

This is Rachel, an Ebola survivor from Mangina, North Kivu, north-eastern DRC.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

As part of the Ebola Emergency Response, the Red Cross is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help stop the spread of Ebola. In eastern DRC, people touch their loved ones’ bodies before burying them as part of their traditional burial practices. When a person has died of Ebola, this can spread the disease to their family and friends. The Red Cross trains specialist burial teams in remote communities to bury people in a safe and dignified manner. The teams also make sure that people’s homes and medical equipment are disinfected.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

A team of hygienist disinfects boots and the ambulance after the burial. The use of chlorine is essential to help decontaminate every item and prevent health workers from being exposed.

UN Photo/Martine Perret

The burial team with family members of a diseased at Kitatumba cemetery in Butembo, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Providing the opportunity for a safe yet dignified burial is an opportunity to respect cultures and provide comfort to those left behind.

This photo essay was adapted from a photo essay originally prepared for the Guardian by Gaelle Johanna Sundelin, UN Emergency Ebola Response Office, DRC, with photography by Martine Perret.

1,000 Ebola survivors in the DR Congo was originally published in We The Peoples on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.