Fieldset
Ebola in DRC: “This has touched my heart forever”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is fighting an Ebola epidemic – now the second-largest outbreak in history. At the end of her first week on the frontline, Australian doctor Saschveen shares this story of hope…

OK, so I’ve made it through my first week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, remaining cool, calm and collected, riding this rollercoaster on a steep learning curve and in a bizarre working environment.  

Yesterday was tough. Sadly, we lost a very kind young man despite the incredibly compassionate care our team provided.

But, thankfully, some wonderful news today with one of our patients being cured – cause for celebration indeed!

The best in human nature

Spread through direct contact with people who are unwell with the disease, Ebola preys on local healthcare workers, caregivers and loved ones.

It is “transmitted through behaviours that represent the best in human nature: caring for the sick, showing reverence for the dead and showing affection.”1

When she heard the news, Mwamini broke into song and dance. Our hardworking team and two fellow patients joined in to celebrate this most joyous moment.

So far, in our unit, most of the confirmed cases have been local nurses who fell ill through their care of patients who didn’t know they were infected 

If you follow MSF’s work in the field, and, if you can support their activities, please know that there’s an incredible network of dedicated people on the ground here – trying to reduce the community impact and devastation this tragic disease brings on innocent families.  

“This has touched my heart forever”

The first patient who was discharged as cured from our unit was Mwamini. The literal translation of her name is “faith”.  

With her consent, I share with you this incredible moment below, as she had just found out that she no longer had Ebola DNA in her bloodstream and was told she was safe to be discharged from the treatment centre.  

When she heard the news, Mwamini broke into song and dance. Our hardworking team and two fellow patients joined in to celebrate this most joyous moment.

This has touched my heart forever.

via GIPHY

And, even better, the two other patients have also since been healed, also!

Mwamini is now an essential part of our team working in the Ebola treatment centre as a carer – supporting families that have a child being treated inside the isolation zone.

She is an incredible inspiration to our whole team and has continued my faith in humanity.  


1. E. Smout, Communicating in a crisis like Ebola: Facts and figures, 2015