Hawa Jollah hangs protective gloves out to dry after they have been sterilised at the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre. Story
Just a few weeks ago, Ebola left Hawa Jollah at death's door. But today, she is a proud survivor, volunteering at the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone to save the lives of others who have the disease.
A nurse at the government-run Kenema hospital in Sierra Leone, just kilometres away from the Red Cross facility, Hawa contracted Ebola after taking care of a sick ambulance driver.
"After the death of the patient, I started getting headaches, fever. I went directly to the hospital," Hawa says. "I tested positive. I was vomiting, sweating and felt very weak. I had abdominal and generalised body pain."
Around two weeks after Hawa first experienced Ebola symptoms, thanks to medical care at the government hospital, she knew she was going to survive.
"I started to know myself that I was going to make it through. I started moving about and eating. Initially I could not recognise people and I started recognising people."
Hawa recalls the joyous moment when she was released from hospital completely free of Ebola. "I was really so happy and my family received me well."
Yet Hawa's joy took a blow when she returned to her community.
"Some people said: You are scaring me. You cannot come closer to me!" she recalls. "I tell them 'Don't fear me. I will fear you now because you do not know how this sickness affects people'."
The discrimination prompted Hawa to fight back against the fear and suffering Ebola has brought to her country.
"I thought that I should not sit at home. I should go back and help my people, to treat them and tell them how I was when I was sick," Hawa says. Hawa volunteered to care for sick patients at the Red Cross treatment centre, which became the main Ebola facility in the region.
"Ebola is not yet finished in Sierra Leone. We still have patients coming in. I still have hope and I will pray that Ebola will go out of Sierra Leone because it is not an easy task."
Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Australian Red Cross