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When Hawa’s mother’s tests came back negative to Ebola, and she’d received treatment for malaria instead, she was able to have a ‘happy shower’. That’s where recovered patients shed their clothes, shower in mild chlorine and then soap and water and emerge with new clothes ready to be discharged back to their homes. They are usually discharged with a ‘care package’ to help them resettle into the community.
I accompanied two ‘survivor’ carers to the children’s home where we gave little Hawa a baby ‘happy shower’, much to her disgust! She was dressed in clean clothes and taken in our car back to the ETC for the reunion with her mother. You can imagine the celebrations and hugs that followed! It was definitely a ‘photo opportunity’. When things had calmed down and Hawa and her mother were waiting to be transported safely back to their village some distance away everyone wanted to join in the photo, even the driver and security guard.
When I arrived in Kono, one of my first jobs was to set up and staff a kindergarten so that infants like little Hawa would not have to be separated from their parents. I’m a nurse and midwife and have early child care experience so it seemed like the perfect job for me.
It’s been a bit of a scramble but our kindergarten is now open and we’ve transferred four other littlies to it so they can be in the same vicinity as their parents and maintain some contact. The kindergarten is separate from the quarantine area but children and parents can see and talk to each other over the small fence. It’s staffed by a roster of ‘survivors’ who are thought to have some level of immunity to Ebola and can care for the children without having to wear full protective clothing.
The ETC here in Kono has only been opened for a few weeks and is still admitting patients but the good news is that we 'happy showered' our first survivor, a very scared, 10 year old girl. Sadly, nearly everyone who had been in the 'confirmed' area with her has died.