As a logistician, I hire daily workers and contractors to keep our projects functioning. When I first got my assignment, my immediate thought was “Will it be hard to find people willing to work in an Ebola Care Center?” Surprisingly, I’ve found quite the opposite.
Every single day I have people: men and women, young and old, coming up to me to ask for work. I hear a myriad of stories. Some are kids who are unoccupied now that school has been shut down, and almost all of them tell me that they are the sole breadwinner for their family and they desperately need a job. I don’t know what the employment situation in Foya was like before the outbreak started, but I can see the situation now is leaving people hungry and penniless.
In a small effort to combat the unemployment problem, I hired three groups of 15 workers and put them on a weekly rotation. I also use a host of different contractors to do a range of jobs from building entire isolation units to making office furniture to crafting crutches. Despite their current situation, I’ve found all of my co-workers here in Foya to be kind, upbeat and more than willing to show me how industrious they are.
In an odd twist, now that the number of patients in the Foya Ebola Management Center have drastically decreased and I have less and less work to offer them, the outbreak continues to rage in the rest of Liberia; which means schools will not be opening any time soon nor will any of the other jobs that Foya normally depends on return. So while I stand at the front gate of the ECC and announce to a group of 30 people, many of whom I’ve hired before, that we have less and less work because there are only a handful of patients and that that’s a good thing, I can see the disappointment in their eyes. Where there was a small opportunity to make a living in a devastating situation, it is fading and the despair is returning.