Photos: Survivors battle grief and stigma after Ebola in the Congo

As of this month, more than 1,000 people have survived the 14-month Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, the world's second deadliest, helped by new medicines that have proven effective against the virus when administered early. The survivors, who call themselves "les vainqueurs" - French for "the victorious" - however struggle to return to their former lives as they deal with the fear of relapse, long-term health issues like blurry vision and headaches and stigmatisation by their families and neighbours.

Updated On Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST
Copy Link
1 / 12
Arlette Kavugho, 40, mother of six and Ebola survivor who works as a caregiver, carries Kambale Eloge, 16 months old, whose mother died of Ebola, during her visit to the UNICEF creche for children whose families are suspected or confirmed Ebola cases, in Katwa, near Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kavugho was discharged from an Ebola ward in March, but her troubles did not end there. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Arlette Kavugho, 40, mother of six and Ebola survivor who works as a caregiver, carries Kambale Eloge, 16 months old, whose mother died of Ebola, during her visit to the UNICEF creche for children whose families are suspected or confirmed Ebola cases, in Katwa, near Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kavugho was discharged from an Ebola ward in March, but her troubles did not end there. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

2 / 12
A woman holds her daughter in front of an Ebola treatment center (ETC) in Katwa. When Kavugho tried to return to work as a seamstress in her hometown of Butembo, customers were too scared of catching the disease, despite doctors’ assurances she was no longer contagious. Instead she found work as a caregiver to children suspected of having Ebola only to be accused by neighbours of faking her illness to get the job. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

A woman holds her daughter in front of an Ebola treatment center (ETC) in Katwa. When Kavugho tried to return to work as a seamstress in her hometown of Butembo, customers were too scared of catching the disease, despite doctors’ assurances she was no longer contagious. Instead she found work as a caregiver to children suspected of having Ebola only to be accused by neighbours of faking her illness to get the job. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

3 / 12
To this day, Kavugho has not been able to find the graves of her 19-year-old daughter and two-month-old granddaughter, who died of Ebola while she was receiving treatment and were hastily buried to avoid contamination. “I try to find the dates on the crosses that may coincide with their deaths but I always come back empty-handed,” she said softly, clinging to a picture of her daughter with the word “adieu” written alongside. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

To this day, Kavugho has not been able to find the graves of her 19-year-old daughter and two-month-old granddaughter, who died of Ebola while she was receiving treatment and were hastily buried to avoid contamination. “I try to find the dates on the crosses that may coincide with their deaths but I always come back empty-handed,” she said softly, clinging to a picture of her daughter with the word “adieu” written alongside. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

4 / 12
Moise Vaghemi, 33, a father of two and an Ebola survivor who works as a nurse, tends to a patient suspected to be suffering from Ebola, inside the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit (CUBE) at an ETC in Katwa. As of this month, more than 1,000 people have survived the 14-month Ebola outbreak in DRC, the world’s second deadliest, helped by new medicines that have proven effective when administered early. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Moise Vaghemi, 33, a father of two and an Ebola survivor who works as a nurse, tends to a patient suspected to be suffering from Ebola, inside the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit (CUBE) at an ETC in Katwa. As of this month, more than 1,000 people have survived the 14-month Ebola outbreak in DRC, the world’s second deadliest, helped by new medicines that have proven effective when administered early. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

5 / 12
Farmer Nzyava, 49, works on her land next to an ETC in Katwa. Nzyava did not suffer from Ebola but lost neighbours. More than 3,200 people are known to have been infected with the virus, of whom more than 2,100 have died since the outbreak was declared in the eastern region. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Farmer Nzyava, 49, works on her land next to an ETC in Katwa. Nzyava did not suffer from Ebola but lost neighbours. More than 3,200 people are known to have been infected with the virus, of whom more than 2,100 have died since the outbreak was declared in the eastern region. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

6 / 12
Kavota Mugisha Robert (R), a healthcare worker, decontaminates his colleague after he entered the house of 85-year-old woman, suspected of dying of Ebola, in Beni. The survivors, who call themselves “les vainqueurs” - French for “the victorious” - struggle to return to their former lives as they deal with the fear of relapse, long-term health issues like blurry vision and headaches and stigmatisation by their families and neighbours. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Kavota Mugisha Robert (R), a healthcare worker, decontaminates his colleague after he entered the house of 85-year-old woman, suspected of dying of Ebola, in Beni. The survivors, who call themselves “les vainqueurs” - French for “the victorious” - struggle to return to their former lives as they deal with the fear of relapse, long-term health issues like blurry vision and headaches and stigmatisation by their families and neighbours. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

7 / 12
Vianey Kombi, 31, takes care of a three-month-old orphan girl confirmed to be suffering from Ebola in Beni. Kombi was a maths teacher when he contracted Ebola last November. Like Kavugho, he found it impossible to return to his former job. “It hurts when I walk past the school where I was teaching, and the children who recognise me start screaming in my direction: Ebola, Ebola,” he said. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Vianey Kombi, 31, takes care of a three-month-old orphan girl confirmed to be suffering from Ebola in Beni. Kombi was a maths teacher when he contracted Ebola last November. Like Kavugho, he found it impossible to return to his former job. “It hurts when I walk past the school where I was teaching, and the children who recognise me start screaming in my direction: Ebola, Ebola,” he said. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

8 / 12
Moise Vaghemi fixes electric cables outside his house. Accusations are common in eastern Congo, where many residents see the outbreak as a money-making scheme made up by the government and outside organisations. “I was even accused of having received money to bring people from my community to the treatment centre, to kill them with the virus and then sell their organs abroad,” said Vaghemi. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Moise Vaghemi fixes electric cables outside his house. Accusations are common in eastern Congo, where many residents see the outbreak as a money-making scheme made up by the government and outside organisations. “I was even accused of having received money to bring people from my community to the treatment centre, to kill them with the virus and then sell their organs abroad,” said Vaghemi. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

9 / 12
Mike Ndinga, 25, a health worker, directs people as his colleague checks the temperature of a citizen as part of the Ebola screening procedure upon her arrival, to the North of Lake Kivu. Mistrust and armed attacks against medical staff have slowed efforts to stamp out the epidemic. Even so, health authorities say survivors play a vital role in their communities by showing that Ebola can be overcome. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Mike Ndinga, 25, a health worker, directs people as his colleague checks the temperature of a citizen as part of the Ebola screening procedure upon her arrival, to the North of Lake Kivu. Mistrust and armed attacks against medical staff have slowed efforts to stamp out the epidemic. Even so, health authorities say survivors play a vital role in their communities by showing that Ebola can be overcome. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

10 / 12
Kitambala Kavugho, 38, an Ebola survivor, takes care of one-year-old Chamim, an orphan whose mother recently died of Ebola in Beni. Some say they draw strength from returning to treatment centres to work as caregivers for children with Ebola, many of whom have lost parents and siblings to the disease. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Kitambala Kavugho, 38, an Ebola survivor, takes care of one-year-old Chamim, an orphan whose mother recently died of Ebola in Beni. Some say they draw strength from returning to treatment centres to work as caregivers for children with Ebola, many of whom have lost parents and siblings to the disease. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

11 / 12
Eugenie Katungu Kavuya, 21, and her cousin Noella Masika Vinyinyi, 30, both Ebola survivors and caregivers, react as they stand next to Kavuya’s parents’ graves, who died of Ebola, at Vuhunga cemetery in Katwa. The antibodies developed during their illness mean they can spend entire days with patients wearing only partial protective gear and not the stifling head-to-toe suits donned by doctors and nurses. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

Eugenie Katungu Kavuya, 21, and her cousin Noella Masika Vinyinyi, 30, both Ebola survivors and caregivers, react as they stand next to Kavuya’s parents’ graves, who died of Ebola, at Vuhunga cemetery in Katwa. The antibodies developed during their illness mean they can spend entire days with patients wearing only partial protective gear and not the stifling head-to-toe suits donned by doctors and nurses. (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

12 / 12
In Katwa, Noella Masika, wearing blue scrubs, a surgical mask and a hair net, bathed a 1-year-old girl suspected of having Ebola in a small plastic bucket. Masika lost 17 family members to Ebola, including both parents and two grandparents, but counts herself fortunate to have survived. “I feel compassionate and grateful for the care I received,” she said. “I feel an obligation to contribute to the fight against Ebola.” (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 21, 2019 12:30 PM IST

In Katwa, Noella Masika, wearing blue scrubs, a surgical mask and a hair net, bathed a 1-year-old girl suspected of having Ebola in a small plastic bucket. Masika lost 17 family members to Ebola, including both parents and two grandparents, but counts herself fortunate to have survived. “I feel compassionate and grateful for the care I received,” she said. “I feel an obligation to contribute to the fight against Ebola.” (Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS)

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 30, 2022