NPR

A Family Of Ebola Fighters: 'With God's Help, We Made It'

It's the third anniversary of the Ebola pandemic. 2014 was a catastrophic year. But one family in Liberia gave health workers a reason to celebrate.
Kadija Shellu is now 7. She had not only Ebola but malaria as well. Source: Ashoka Mukpo for NPR

Three years ago, Liberia was in the opening act of an unfolding catastrophe. The first cases of Ebola had been confirmed in the country on March 30, 2014. Over the next months, the virus spread, largely undetected at first. By late summer, every day the country awoke to news of dying Liberians being turned away from treatment or of families ripped apart by the virus. Uncertainty and fear swirled in the streets of Monrovia.

But on the afternoon of September 11 that year, amid the chaos, there was a quiet pocket of joy.

It was at the Ebola Treatment Unit called "ELWA2," on the outskirts of the city. The unit, a small concrete building initially intended to be a cafeteria and laundromat, was run by Jerry Brown, a Liberian doctor who would later appear on the cover of Time magazine as an "Ebola fighter."

During a break in the rains, three small children walked along the gravel path leading away from the unit, draped in ill-fitting clothing and followed by two young men and a man and woman in their 40s.

"Y'all one family?" asked a member of a burial team, waiting outside with her crew to collect the day's dead bodies from the unit for cremation.

"One family," replied the older man, beaming through a weary face as he climbed

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