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Few people on earth are brave enough to return to a place that nearly got them killed. More so, when the place is an Ebola ambulance. Abdul Richard Kamara, a 35 year-old professional driver and Ebola survivor from Sierra Leone is one of such people.
At the onset of the outbreak, Abdul was the first to volunteer to drive the only ambulance that was available in the entire Tonkolili District. It was in the process of transporting patients from their various villages to the treatment center, wearing the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for more than 8 hours at a time, that he contracted the virus.
He recalls that an Ebola patient urinated in the back of the ambulance and it filtered to the front.
Thinking that the urine was his sweat from long hours of wearing the PPE, he decided to clean it and that was how he contracted the disease.
However, realizing that he was the only ambulance driver, he decided to continue driving even when he already was manifesting the symptoms.
Eventually, he reported to the treatment center on November 6, 2014 where he was treated and subsequently discharged fourteen days later. Upon recovering, he immediately went back to driving the ambulance and he is still doing so till now. Despite losing his brother who was also an ambulance driver to the virus, he is currently serving as the chairman of the Survivor’s Organization for Tonkolili District, where he takes it upon himself to take care of the other survivors. Interestingly, he heads the Transport Unit of the district’s Ebola response as its ambulance chief driver, a task he performs till date.
Abdul is one of the most courageous persons I’ve met in this Ebola response. A very outspoken person who is eager to respond and help in any emergency, he worked closely with the AU-psychosocial team in returning survivors to their homes after their discharge from the ETU.
Imo Chinasa is the head of the AU-Psychosocial/Social Mobilization Pillar in Sierra Leone
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