One woman's fight against Ebola
- 1 December 2014
- From the section In Pictures
The Ebola crisis has claimed almost 6,000 lives during the current epidemic in parts of West Africa, bringing unimaginable suffering to the communities affected. News organisations have dispatched photographers and camera crews to report, but alongside this some of those who work in the region have been using social media to record a wider story.
One of those is Katie Meyler whose pictures on Instagram show the work her organisation is doing to help combat Ebola in West Point, a township in the capital of Liberia, Monrovia.
Meyler first worked in Liberia in 2006 teaching adult literacy. A few years later she created More Than Me and eventually set up an academy to provide a free education for girls in the township, hoping this will provide her pupils with a better future, and open up opportunities that would otherwise have been closed to them.
Yet when Ebola struck the country the situation changed. Schools were closed, the families of those she taught were living in fear, and some were dying.
Meyler wanted to help, and so concentrated on filling the gaps in the community response, bringing together government, NGOs, and local leaders to fight Ebola together.
The team at More Than Me also responded to the needs of children who had been in contact with Ebola, observing them safely and ensuring, if they are free of it, that they are able to rejoin their families and get on with life.
Sometimes it also means getting those who are suspected to have Ebola transferred to the treatment centres, and this is done by a 15-strong ambulance team.
The programme is proving successful and is now being replicated in other parts of Monrovia.
Meyler's pictures act as a record of those caught up in the crisis, and also help promote her work, bringing in donations and pledges.
Here she shares some of her pictures and the stories behind them.
"This woman is a neighbour of the More Than Me staff house. Her husband died and they are quarantined in this photo but so far no-one else has gotten sick and they're healthy now. But her husband was the one who brought money for the family so now they are struggling to make ends meet."
"Jacob had Ebola and lived through it and now is helping where he can. He is at a neighbour's house after they died, spraying bleach to disinfect the area."
"This baby was rejected from the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) for some reason, I am not sure if he had Ebola or not. That's one of the biggest problems in this crisis. There's no rapid testing for Ebola (at least I've never seen it) and so when people get sick, they are scared to go to the treatment centre because if they don't have Ebola, they might get it. People are dying of lots of things and people rarely know what a person died from."
"Esther survived Ebola but her family didn't. For days we were trying to make her smile, and here she finally did! She has my heart."
"As we were looking for land for the boarding school we wanted to build, we saw kids jumping into the river and having fun. It was refreshing to see kids being kids, especially when things were so tense."
"She's the eldest sibling in her family. Her mom died of Ebola. She said no-one will ever take her mom's place. She and her siblings have been living with her auntie for a while because she can better support them. More Than Me has been supporting the families with supplies."
"These groups have regular meetings where they make decisions about Liberia's Ebola response. On Fridays, NGOs can attend the meetings."
"This is Sarah walking into the ETU after our ambulance picked her up from her home and dropped her off here. She looked stronger than most do walking in, holding tight onto her teddy bears. I received word that she died and I couldn't believe it, I thought for sure she would make it. I thought she'd get better treatment because there were less people being treated at that time, more beds available. This photo was the last time we saw her. Her family wasn't with her when she walked in."
"A 21-year-old young man who lost seven family members, including his dad and step-mother. He was afraid and he feels like the reason he survived was because he got fast transportation to, and treatment at, ETU. He's incredibly thankful to More Than Me, and came to our staff meeting to show his appreciation."
"Baby Kate and Esther, her mom, send love to all those who have supported More Than Me's efforts. She says she was discouraged before, her brother died, and people in her community were dying day and night from Ebola. After More Than Me started our Ebola efforts, the sick were transported quickly to get help, awareness came, dignity came, and even the sick children who have lived now ride around the neighbourhood on bicycles.
"This caption speaks for itself. Esther is one of my oldest friends in Liberia. She is the mother of Elizabeth, More Than Me's first student. Baby Katie, pictured here, is my namesake (named after me)."