Health

Meet the children orphaned by Ebola

Ebola orphans

More than 10,000 children have lost one or both parents to Ebola in West Africa's current outbreak of the disease, according to UNICEF.

Almost 8,000 of those children are from Sierra Leone.

Many are also Ebola survivors themselves, but because of the stigma and fear around the virus they are often shunned by their communities.

Britain has pledged £2.5m to help set up special care centres for Ebola orphans and re-unite children with their extended families.

The BBC's global health correspondent, Tulip Mazumdar, has been to St George Foundation orphanage in Freetown, which is run by a British charity, and spoken to two orphans about their experiences.

Haja Umu, 17

Haja survived Ebola and now helps look after orphans at St George's. If any children are suspected of being sick, she looks after them because she has a level of immunity against the virus.

"My aunt developed a fever and three days later she died.

"We didn't know at the time that it was Ebola that had killed her. So my whole family went to her funeral. A few days after that I became ill too and so did many members of my family including my mother and brothers and sisters.

"I was admitted to a government hospital and then moved to an Ebola treatment centre.

"I liked being there because some people who got sick didn't report their illness and they died in their village. I got the correct treatment.

"They gave me medicines. I was helpless and I didn't expect to survive. But they helped me get well.

"But many of my family have died. My father had died before in 2009, my mother died during this outbreak and my brothers and sisters, 11 of us were infected with Ebola, and only I survived.

"I miss my family every day, it's so hard, I think about them all the time.

"Although I miss my family I am very happy I survived. Now I wish to help others.

"I am happy I survived, now I want to hep protect others."

Mohamed Sesay, 12

Mohamed lost both his parents to Ebola.

He was kept quarantined in his home where his parents died for 21 days in case he developed the sickness, but was then forced to leave his village with his surviving sister, because his extended family and neighbours were scared they would catch Ebola from him.

He has recently arrived at the orphanage with his elder sister.

"My mother and my father died of Ebola. After they died, my community treated me very badly.

"They told me to go away from my house and never come back. So I went to my grandmother's house and she told me to get out from her place.

"Me and my sister were alone for two days, we had to sleep outside in an unfinished building. Nobody wanted to see us. I did not feel good.

"Then we went to my grandmother's friend's house and she let us stay. I felt fine there, she talked to me nicely, she gave me food and then I went to sleep.

"But after two days my grandmother's friend said I had to leave. A car came and we were brought here.

"I feel good here. They take care of me well. I eat good - three times a day! I sleep, I play, and I study. I am a strong boy and I will be OK."

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