So Many and Yet Too Few

By Winnie Romeril
Spokesperson, World Health Organization
Jan. 27, 2015

Sitting in wintery Geneva, it’s hard to imagine how to describe to my family and friends back home these past three months in Sierra Leone working with the World Health Organization (WHO). As I look through my photos, the most meaningful stories that fill my mind and my heart, and make my eyes well up invariably involve Ebola survivors. To date in Sierra Leone, there are over 2,100 survivors discharged from treatment facilities— each with an “Ebola-free” certificate in hand. So many and yet too few.

The first Ebola survivor I met was a soft-spoken British nurse, Will Pooley, returning post-recovery to Freetown just as I arrived. No fanfare, just a regular guy chatting with friends. He included me in their conversation, as we huddled out of the rain before boarding our boat taxi from the airport to the city. “Oh, you’re THAT Will,” I blurted out, remembering what my WHO colleagues had told me. They were fresh from meeting a roomful of his former patients at the Kenema survivors conference. The survivors asked about Will; they sent their thanks to him for their lives. He was surprised, humbled and visibly touched.  “Ebola is unlike any disease I’ve ever witnessed,” Will recently said about his experience. “Nothing can prepare you for the effect it has on the infected, on their families, and on their communities.” Read on.

[Bill Lewellis] As spokesperson for the World Health Organization, Winnie spent the past few months working at ground zero of the Ebola outbreak. BBCNews interviewed Winnie NBC also did a story with Winnie, Horror in Sierra Leone. Winnie is the daughter of the Rev. Canon Gwendolyn-Jane and Bob Romeril of Bethlehem. While growing up in Bethlehem, Winnie was a youth group leader in an Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem program. "She has been living out of the Isaiah passage for some years now," Mother Romeril says, "and where the need is greatest, she always answers the call. 'Her call is as clear as yours, but it has no labels,' Bob reminds me often. Find background on Winnie in an Express-Times story and follow her on Facebook.]

By Winnie Romeril, Spokesperson, World Health Organization

Sitting in wintery Geneva, it’s hard to imagine how to describe to my family and friends back home these past three months in Sierra Leone working with the World Health Organization (WHO). As I look through my photos, the most meaningful stories that fill my mind and my heart, and make my eyes well up invariably involve Ebola survivors. To date in Sierra Leone, there are over 2,100 survivors discharged from treatment facilities— each with an “Ebola-free” certificate in hand. So many and yet too few.

The first Ebola survivor I met was a soft-spoken British nurse, Will Pooley, returning post-recovery to Freetown just as I arrived. No fanfare, just a regular guy chatting with friends. He included me in their conversation, as we huddled out of the rain before boarding our boat taxi from the airport to the city. “Oh, you’re THAT Will,” I blurted out, remembering what my WHO colleagues had told me. They were fresh from meeting a roomful of his former patients at the Kenema survivors conference. The survivors asked about Will; they sent their thanks to him for their lives. He was surprised, humbled and visibly touched.  “Ebola is unlike any disease I’ve ever witnessed,” Will recently said about his experience. “Nothing can prepare you for the effect it has on the infected, on their families, and on their communities.”

Abdul was another health worker I had the privilege to meet. He attended a workshop given by the Ministry of Social Welfare with WHO doctors and nurses. Because of the muscle wasting caused by Ebola, Abdul was too weak to return to caring for patients. He was given this opportunity to learn the psychological first aid skills being taught to HIV/AIDS counselors, mental health workers, and others in helping professions. Ebola affected every aspect of society, everyone was stressed, and simple listening techniques could provide support.

- See more at: http://unfoundationblog.org/ebola/so-many-and-yet-too-few/#sthash.jBqGo3Ad.dpuf

By Winnie Romeril, Spokesperson, World Health Organization

Sitting in wintery Geneva, it’s hard to imagine how to describe to my family and friends back home these past three months in Sierra Leone working with the World Health Organization (WHO). As I look through my photos, the most meaningful stories that fill my mind and my heart, and make my eyes well up invariably involve Ebola survivors. To date in Sierra Leone, there are over 2,100 survivors discharged from treatment facilities— each with an “Ebola-free” certificate in hand. So many and yet too few.

The first Ebola survivor I met was a soft-spoken British nurse, Will Pooley, returning post-recovery to Freetown just as I arrived. No fanfare, just a regular guy chatting with friends. He included me in their conversation, as we huddled out of the rain before boarding our boat taxi from the airport to the city. “Oh, you’re THAT Will,” I blurted out, remembering what my WHO colleagues had told me. They were fresh from meeting a roomful of his former patients at the Kenema survivors conference. The survivors asked about Will; they sent their thanks to him for their lives. He was surprised, humbled and visibly touched.  “Ebola is unlike any disease I’ve ever witnessed,” Will recently said about his experience. “Nothing can prepare you for the effect it has on the infected, on their families, and on their communities.”

Abdul was another health worker I had the privilege to meet. He attended a workshop given by the Ministry of Social Welfare with WHO doctors and nurses. Because of the muscle wasting caused by Ebola, Abdul was too weak to return to caring for patients. He was given this opportunity to learn the psychological first aid skills being taught to HIV/AIDS counselors, mental health workers, and others in helping professions. Ebola affected every aspect of society, everyone was stressed, and simple listening techniques could provide support.

- See more at: http://unfoundationblog.org/ebola/so-many-and-yet-too-few/#sthash.jBqGo3Ad.dpuf

How Ebola Roared Back

[NYTimes] For a fleeting moment last spring, the epidemic sweeping West Africa might have been stopped. But the opportunity to control the virus, which has now caused more than 7,800 deaths, was lost. … "It's like if a plane crashes in the Hudson in the morning, and there's a snowstorm in the afternoon and floods in the subways in the evening. And then you have two planes hit the World Trade Center in the middle of the night."

[Dr. Robert Fowler of the World Health Organization, on the organization's facing an Ebola breakout in West Africa, while also handling crises in Saudi Arabia, China and Syria.] Read on.

This is an excellent, though lengthy, feature.