Ebola survivors serving their community

UNICEF is teaming up with Ebola survivors to stop the spread of the epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Joseph-Ryan Nkoy (translated from French by Daphne Wood)
Gemima est une survivante d'Ebola
28 February 2020

While the Ebola epidemic, which has claimed more than 2,260 victims since August, is contained in the territory of Beni, hundreds of citizens, sufferers and survivors are working together. In Beni, members of the Ebola Survivors Association are going from house to house to remind families of prevention methods.

Gemima Landa, 27, has tirelessly involved herself in the fight since she herself became infected with the disease. “When I arrived at the Ebola treatment centre, I was in so much pain and bleeding everywhere, but I was still not convinced,” says Gemima, who did not believe in the existence of the disease. Despite her doubts, Gemima was indeed suffering from Ebola and was immediately taken care of. “With the help of the healthcare team and psychosocial workers I finally understood and accepted that Ebola existed,” says Gemima.

After several days of treatment, Gemima was delared cured and left the treatment centre. UNICEF-supported psychosocial workers accompanied Gemima to facilitate her return to her family and community, as many people believed she was still contagious. “I had a hard time,” recalls Gemima, who resolved to move on.

Since her recovery, Gemima has been tirelessly involved in the fight against the disease and is sharing her story to convince those who are reticent. Every day after taking her daughter to school, she visits the different neighbourhoods of the city of Beni to raise awareness and encourage people to adopt preventive measures.

As a mother, Gemima pays special attention to mothers and pregnant women. She regularly visits health centres to meet with them and explain to them how they can protect themselves, their families and their children. The reason Gemima is committed to fighting the disease, is first and foremost to protect her five-year-old daughter.

She is the reason I am doing this work. The people around my child need to know about the Ebola viral disease and protect themselves from it so I can make sure that my daughter does not fall victim to it,” says Gemima.

This mother works day after day to raise awareness in her neighbourhood and inform as many people as possible in order to break the train of transmission of the Ebola virus. As a survivor, Gemima manages to convince those who still doubt the existence of the disease to adopt preventive measures.

Since the start of the epidemic in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 1,165 people have survived the disease. Like Gemima, many survivors have joined the fight to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.

UNICEF’s response to the Ebola epidemic is supported by the World Bank, the European Commission – European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid OperationsGavi - the Vaccine Alliance, the United States Agency for International Development, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the Government of Japan. UNICEF is also supported by the German Committee for UNICEF, the World Bank Group’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, the United Kingdom and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.