Liberians Mourn Their Dead

-Reflect On How Ebola Treated Their Relatives

By Mark N. Mengonfia

 MONROVIA-The Second Wednesday in the month of March is set aside by the government of Liberia by an act of legislation exclusively to commemorate the dead.

Each year, Liberians gather at various grave sites mourning their departed relatives.

It is an emotional day as people are seen crying at various grave sites while others are seeing drinking  so as to take away their sorrows and dancing to the beats of music in public places.

However the day is commemorated, it makes relatives of the dead to recollect the memories of their family members and how painful their departure was.

One of those people who will never forget about how their  family members died are those who lost their relatives the Ebola virus disease (EVD).

On Wednesday, Liberians pulled in at the Ebola cemetery ; a place which was used during the days of the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

As they walked in, they were seen crying out loud calling the names of their relatives.

” Each time we come here I feel the pain. Whenever I see the grave of my mother, it can really hurt me a lot” Laurence Tarpah, a son of one of those who died during the days of the deadly EVD period on Liberia.

Laurence, like others, has gone with his aunt Fatu Sumo to pay respect to his mother whose death according Fatu, was not Ebola related, but due to the nature of the virus, her uncle and others took the body at the Ebola grave yard.

As others entered the Ebola cemetery, they walked to their relatives grave, laid special flowers  and offer prayers in memory of them.

One person who has been around the site for a prolong period of time is, Cater Zinnah- a young Liberian who kept the record when dead bodies were putting into the site.

From 2014 to 2018 he worked at the site, but later resigned due to low payment of salary by the National

Zinnah who took reporters that  have gone to the site on a guarded tour said,” As a young person to see yourself working at the grave site is you will not feel Happy. I did it because of the love of my country.”

Zinnah worked at the site for four years and he was responsible for  keeping of the records and printing of names on the crosses placed at the head of the various graves.

He indicated that working at the site back then, was not something satisfactory to him, but he said it was worth it on grounds that he was able to work for his Country.

He went on to say that the area is divided into sessions placing people into various categories or sessions to enable family members locate their relatives.

Pointing his fingers, Zinnah said, “over there is session C. It is a place that children whose names were not recorded were placed.” He said they have over thousand rolls.

According to him, those who were buried there number stands at approximately over 30,000 excluding the kids.

He recounted his days working at the ceremony when the name Ebola was very . E. Jefferson Dahnlo is the Dead bodies Management Coordinator at the National Public Health Institute Liberia(NPHIL. He said “we all know what the Ebola did to us as a country.”

He said the establishment by the government to have the place preserve was one of the best things done by them.

He indicated that they have given the go-ahead to those who want to place a tomb over their late relatives.

Looking towards the direction of the cemetery, he said;  “this place was established for all infectious   diseases”, adding that bodies neglected on the streets.

He called on people  to visit the site, especially those who have  not  done so for themselves what Ebola did in Liberia.

” When they come they will know the importance of keeping distance, washing of hands, and following all health protocols”

Apart from the Ebola cemetery, others gathered at other places to commemorate the day.

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