I am writing to confirm/inform of the death of Victor Kasim Sahid today in Port Loko.”
Adam has been keeping us updated on the situation in Makeni, news which is never good and only sometimes less bad.
I put them together into an entry to share with you, try to make some sense of these long emails of woe he sends us, but every time I assemble it, another email drops in my inbox and the situation is worse. He tells stories of young children left alone, quarantined in houses for days after their parents have died. Villages where corpses have been exhumed to re-infect whole populations. The university draining its resources in an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to the community. People collapsing in the streets, in the market places. Students who have passed away. Prices skyrocketing. Lockdowns, quarantines, fear. Nurses dying in the hospital where they treated our typhoid.
The numbers of sick increase exponentially and are reaching a point – if they haven’t already – where there is no longer any real hope of control within the country. And still, still the help doesn’t come. People are dying by the hundreds and dying, too – perhaps in even greater numbers – of diseases which might otherwise be treatable.
We read the reports and we dream of help. We sit here helpless ourselves, dreaming of our life, our home, our friends and they are being torn apart and we want to send help.
I want them to be helped.
But delivering that help means that people here, people who are safe and well and loved, comfortable and safe, people here have to go there and put themselves in that environment, put the care and health of those communities above their own.
I suppose I knew that I was marrying one of those people.
What a strange month this has been. There are blog entries written and half-finished, full of pictures of our wedding, pictures of our wonderful honeymoon in Amalfi, pictures of all the fun things we have done as unemployed people in London. Pictures of an August that we will always treasure.
And all the while we have been having fun the emails reach us from Sierra Leone, from Mercy and Adam working with the university, from Patrick and Frank in Freetown, from Moses who ends his emails with “Pray for me, brother”, and all the while we have asked ourselves what happens next for us?
It’s a strange way to start married life.
And it will become stranger still, a fortnight from now, when I wave Georgie off at the airport as she returns to Sierra Leone, this time to join the fight against Ebola, bringing her unique skill set and experience to support the local and international medical teams and provide much need psychological first aid to the nurses, the doctors and the survivors.
For Georgie, her duty is clear. And working for a major international health organisation will be the realisation of a dream. She knows full well the risks of doing this. She is nervous, of course, but she will go anyway. And she will be brilliant. I know how good she is at what she does. I have seen her work, I have listened to her ideas and I have lived with her compassion, her dedication to her work and her utter belief in the importance of what she does. I know how she can help people, I have seen first hand how she reaches people and changes lives. She has changed my own. You can imagine, perhaps, how proud I am of this wife of mine. And perhaps you can imagine, too, how I will feel waving her off at the airport.
This has been, indeed, a strange way to start married life.