“I heard stirring stories of many of the victims of the deadly Ebola virus Disease (EVD). It was very clear to me at a point that I had taken a good decision to come and assist in this humanitarian crisis. In one of the hospitals, over a dozen health care workers had died of Ebola. These were colleagues who had lost their lives in the line of duty to save that of others.”
The African continent was recently hit by its worst and most widespread epidemic in history. The World Health Organisation (WHO) called the outbreak the largest, most complex and most severe ever seen, and described it as the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times. Over 11,000 people died from the Ebola virus Disease (EVD) which steered global concerns and support.
“…many of the survivors who shared their recovery stories stated that it was a miracle, and that it took the hand of God to make it through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’. Those were memorable moments.”
We speak to one of the health workers from Ghana, Dr. Gifty Sunkwa-Mills, who is also an associate of Joyful Way Inc. Dr. Sunkwa-Mills has not ceased to give thanks to God for His diving protection throughout her mission in Liberia to support the WHO Ebola Response. Many health workers lost their lives attending to duty when it called; she attributes her preservation to God’s mercies and divine intervention. After her mission to bring health and hope to people stricken by the EVD, she shares her story to encourage us.
“It was a great experience helping a nation affected by Ebola. It was a difficult and challenging decision to make from the onset. I was greatly inspired by a good friend and colleague, who had taken the lead on a mission to Sierra Leone to help at the peak of the Ebola crises. It was a mission that required initiative, boldness, commitment, passion and a sense of courage. I embarked on this call to duty with a lot of caution and enthusiasm, and I prayed for the best. Due to the nature and urgency of the mission, I had to hit the ground running. On arrival in Liberia after almost 24 hours of travel and transit, I quickly settled down and oriented myself for the task ahead.
I participated in a lot of field activities in various counties (regions) mainly involving consultations in Epidemiology, provision of technical assistance to health workers, health promotion teams, case investigators, and counselling teams. I assisted the teams to investigate suspected cases of EVD and make arrangements for their safe referral to Treatment Units. I was involved in training healthcare workers and volunteers to work with the Ebola Response teams. I also worked with social mobilisation teams to educated community members and advocate for behavioural change for infection prevention and control.
There were very strict safety protocols that doctors and other health workers had to follow daily. We washed our hands with chlorinated water very often, and we avoided handshaking and any form of contact as much as possible.
Even outside the working environment, one had to keep hand sanitisers or chlorinate water close by, keep a safe distance from people and have temperature checks at the entrances of shops, supermarkets, banks, hotels etc.
I heard stirring stories of many of the victims of the deadly EVD. It was very clear to me at a point that I had taken a good decision to come and assist in this humanitarian crisis. In one of the hospitals, over a dozen healthcare workers had died of Ebola. These were colleagues who had lost their lives in the line of duty to save that of others. It cut close to home, and I had some pensive moments.
There were lots of people who needed care, direction, reassurance and hope. It was a privilege beyond measure to be able to contribute in my own small way to give hope and assurance to people who had nowhere else to turn to.
During one of the psychosocial counselling sessions with survivors of EVD, many of those who shared their recover stories stated that it was a miracle, and that it took the hand of God to make it through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’. Those were memorable moments.
I stayed cautious and professional, and trusted God to preserve me every step of the way; He did. At the end of a well fought battle, I came home to a warm welcome from family and friends, who joined me to thank the Lord for His preservation.
I will always remember the people of Liberia for their kindness and hospitality, although the setting at the time did not permit much socialisation. I look forward to the day when the fight against Ebola will be won once and for all in the entire West African sub-region.”
She used her gift and skill to be a blessing unto others in spite of the risk involved. Just as I Corinthians 12:4-6 reveals; each one of us has God-given abilities. These abilities should be used effectively to be a blessing to the body of Christ knowing that a day of accountability certainly stares at us.
Our God never ceases to show us His love and commitment. He still delivers us from ‘the valley of the shadow of death’.
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