Liberia (GAiN) — [Editor’s Note: This Global Aid Network story gives insight into the effects of Ebola in Liberia.]
From July to September, 2014, while the earth continued its usual breakneck pace around the sun, life in Liberia came to a standstill. The Ebola crisis had reached its peak, causing schools to shut down and large companies to move away. Staple foods like rice and vegetables could no longer be imported, and hospitals had to close as more and more medical staff contracted the disease and died. And because Ebola spreads through personal contact, a lively and sociable people accustomed to handshakes and hugs became increasingly isolated, forced into suspicion and caution.
Liberians who lived through the crisis say the outbreak landed like a bomb: dead bodies in the streets, pervasive fear, a scrambled response even in the midst of shock. It came out of nowhere and found the health system overmatched and underprepared.
But instead of exploding in an instant, this bomb went off slowly, over a period of months, and no one knew when the blast would end. Instead of leveling buildings, it decimated the economy. Instead of scattering masses of debris, it sowed paralysis and distrust. From the air, Liberia might not look any different than it did a year ago, but the devastation on the ground has been massive.
Now, the long-awaited recovery is underway. Schools and international borders have just reopened, albeit with many precautions. The large companies that employ so many Liberians are gradually moving their operations back in. Ebola Treatment Units, so crucial in providing care and helping to contain the virus over the past six months, are starting to close–they’re no longer needed.
This is all great news and cause for hope, but the big-picture reality remains sobering. The United Nations, for example, predicts that it will take years for Liberia’s economy to stabilize, and a full decade to reach pre-Ebola norms. Children have lost parents and precious months of education; parents have lost children and the means to provide for whatever family remains.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to ravage neighboring countries like Guinea and Sierra Leone. Even as Liberians embrace the prospect of recovery, they can’t relax because the threat of a new outbreak still looms.
These are immense challenges, but with challenges come opportunities for God’s people. Ebola did not surprise God, and the crisis did not paralyze God while it ran its course. From the beginning He mobilized His people to bring relief, hope, and healing to the people of Liberia. He has been at work, and He continues to redeem brokenness and bring about good.
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