One and a half years have gone by since I have been to Sierra Leone.
My last visit was in June 2014 and ended with bad news: EBOLA.
Due to my departure I could escape the deadly virus. However, the locals who stayed behind, had to live with the epidemic, with thousands of dead, with fear of human contact, with isolation from the rest of the world. Until November 2015, Sierra Leone was declared as Ebola free-zone and the people here got the chance, to come back to their normal course of life – step by step.
That’s why it was especially shocking when a new case of Ebola was reported in Sierra Leone a couple of weeks ago. It was exactly the time when I was making preparations for my trip to Freetown…So I had to ask myself: Do I really want to take that risk? After some considerations I was absolutely determined – like my colleagues – to go!
Shortly before our landing in Freetown, we could hardly imagine how life after the Ebola virus would be here. We got the surprisingly relieving answer after the arrival during our first walk on the beach of Freetown:
The place was full of life; people everywhere, dozens of teenage soccer players kicking passionately in the sand, a joyful atmosphere everywhere around us – most of the people simply enjoy their leisure time.
We experienced a similar picture at the market: merchants talking to their customers, couples doing a little bit of shopping, neighbors and friends shaking hands or hugging each other joyfully without the slightest signs of fear.
A good, newly gained feeling of normal life.
Welcome back, Freetown!