Africa

Valentines's Day in the Ebola heartlands

People on the beach in Monrovia, Liberia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Celebrating on the beach is a popular pasttime in countries like Liberia

One of the hardest things about Ebola is that showing love can make things worse. You cannot wash the body of a loved one who has died from Ebola. You cannot touch a sick relative showing symptoms. You must abstain from sex if you have the virus  and use condoms for three months after you recover.

Ahead of Valentine's Day on 14 February, we asked people affected by the Ebola outbreak to share their pictures and experiences with us via the BBC Ebola WhatsApp Information Service.


Prince and Angie in Liberia

We have spent the past six years living happily and cherishing every moment of our lives.

Since the outbreak of this deadly Ebola virus we have stepped back from some of our social activities.

We no longer explore the outdoors and we visit our families much less frequently.

This Valentine's Day will be different for us and we'll especially miss being outdoors, but we will still celebrate at home.


Idrissa in Sierra Leone

This time around Valentine's Day will be celebrated in a different way with my partner.

Things we used to do like kissing and making love will not happen, even though we are not victims of Ebola.

We thought it fit to let go of Valentine's Day this year, even though it will be hard for us.


Jeremiah and Desiama in Freetown

Ebola has greatly affected us.

Previously I would take my lady to a beach of her choice around Freetown and eat the food she had prepared and I would surprise her with a gift.

This time around we won't celebrate it that way, we will stay indoors and have our celebration.


Lansana's partner in Freetown

The Ebola virus has had a negative affect on my relationship - my partner and I cannot even be close to each other.

We follow the prevention rules such as washing our hands and using hand-sanitiser to protect us.

We used to celebrate Valentine's Day in a flamboyant way by going to the beach or nightclub but this one will be observed quietly, just me and my lovely partner.


Mr and Mrs Gbla

We thank god for our relationship. Since the Ebola outbreak came to Sierra Leone, we have been much more careful in our daily lives to avoid contracting the virus.


A quiet celebration

This time our Valentine's Day celebration will be quiet and different from usual.

My partner and I will not go out, we will stay at home, watch movies, take some photos and enjoy the delicious meal I will prepare.


A camping trip

It's been challenging for us even though Ebola is not in Ghana.

My girlfriend travels to Liberia on business a lot and she gets tested every time she returns.

We'll go camping this Valentine's Day.


Ibrahim in Kenema, Sierra Leone

I was temporarily separated from my wife for a couple of months during the Ebola outbreak, as I stayed in the epicentre of Kenema.

We were locked down while my wife stayed in Freetown.

Now she intends to come to visit me during Valentine's Day.

It'll be hard to resist touching her.

We may make visits to relatives in the community who have lost loved ones.

It is difficult to celebrate this day joyously, so we would rather commemorate loved ones.

These stories and photos were shared by users of our BBC Ebola WhatsApp service. To subscribe, text "join" to +44 7702 348651. For all the latest news and updates on Ebola and to join the conversation, follow BBC Ebola.

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