Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Daily Four Mile Ebola Challenge

James Jajua  (Nero)
I have been sitting here, in my quiet time, thinking about this horrible Ebola virus rampaging existence in my country of birth Sierra Leone. Two days ago another beloved brother James Jajua from my hometown Segbwema, a nurse with over 25 years experience in medical - surgical nursing and Lassa Fever management and a family man had his life cut short by this horrible disease.
Alice Kovoma 

James Jajua, Matilda Koroma,  Aminata Baimba,  Aminata Jajua,  Joe Nallo, Idrissa Magbity, Mrs. Fonnie,  Alice Kovoma. These are all people I knew personally growing up in Segbwema. To some people Ebola victims are statistical figures. To me they are flesh and blood.
Allan Idriss Magbity 

Alice Kovoma was the fiancee of one of my best friends and mentor, Mohamed Mustapha,  aka "Rasta." She was such a stunning beauty that we use to tell Rasta that he was simply the luckiest man in the world. She became a nurse after high school and later went to work for Lassa Fever Research Project. She died in Kenema after exposure to Ebola.

Aminata Baimba was my classmate at Wesley Secondary school. She was such a physical presence and was the best female shot put player throughout her school days at Wesley. She later became a nurse and married the current Paramount Chief of Jawie Chiefdom in Kailahun district. She was one of the first people who died of Ebola in Daru.

Amina Jajua was a very beautiful girl, dark in complexion and very quiet. She was married at a young age to one of my close friends Osman "Tolo" Gbabie. Tolo was very studious and when I was taking my "O" Level exams he became my study partner. We would huddle over our kerosene lamps up to 2.00 clock in the morning and go to school the next day red eyed. He loved his wife so much and only God knows how he is coping at the moment.

Joe Nallo was the brother of another mentor of mine, Allan Idriss Magbity. Joe was a very serious person and not an extrovert like Magbity. He was a nurse at Nixon who helped treat another nurse from Mendekema. This was how he got infected with the Ebola virus. He brought it back home and infected members of his family including his mum and brother.

Allan Idriss Magbity,  aka "Billy Gbash," was simply one of the best people you would ever chance to meet. He was intelligent,  studious and humble, with an infectious laugh. He was one of the first people from our neighborhood to go to college. He used to talk about that experience so much that I decided that one day college would be in my future. He was recently elevated to the position of Principal of the Wesley Junior school. Magbity's death is a huge blow to education in our area.

James Jajua was a nurse who loved his job. He went out of his way to help others and was one of those brothers who would call you, give you lunch money and tell you not to tell anybody. James was one of the people we were very proud of in our own section of Segbwema, Taima. His dad was the head of all the section chiefs in Njaluahun Chiefdom. He was born into the ruling family that has ruled our Njaluahun chiefdom for over half a century.

Matilda Koroma was my age rank and we started primary school together at Segbwema's Methodist Primary School,  before I was relocated to the capital Freetown to continue primary education. When I was in primary school in Freetown,  I was lucky to be selected from all across Sierra Leone to read the Commonwealth prayer for Sierra Leone. Every year on commonwealth day, we would huddle near a radio to listen to the  Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and hear the announcer say "this is the Commonwealth prayer for Sierra Leone read by Sheku Sheriff." It was a source of great pride for my family and Matilda's mum Mama Baindu  would always tease me about it.

Sometimes people don't know why I pay so much attention in my blog posts to the Ebola outbreak. The reason is simple. To me, Ebola is personal. Even though I live  thousands of miles from Sierra Leone,  Ebola has robbed me of people who really mattered to me growing up.
Allan with Wesley Alumni 

In order to honor the memory of these brothers and sisters, I am setting myself a daily four mile challenge. Starting tomorrow,  I intend to run four miles every day until the Ebola scourge is removed from my country Sierra Leone. Come rain, shine or snow,  I intend to do this challenge to remind myself every day about the thousands of people whose lives have been upended by this dreadful plague.
So tomorrow I start and will keep my blog readership regularly updated.

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