(AA) – Beatrice Yardolo recently made international headlines as Liberia’s last known Ebola patient and survivor.
But what has been more important to her is the warm welcome she received from her family and friends when she returned to her local community.
“When I came back from the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU), a lot of them showed appreciation,” she told The Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview inside her home.
Yardolo, 58, was discharged from hospital on March 5 as Liberia’s last Ebola patient and survivor.
She and her daughter were taken to the unit on Feb. 18 after contracting the virus.
Her daughter, however, did not survive.
Liberia’s first Ebola case was reported on March 24 in Lofa County.
Since then, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed nearly 9,976 people, mostly in West Africa, according to a March 11 World Health Organization (WHO) status report.
In Liberia alone, the virus has claimed at least 4,162 lives.
According to the WHO, Liberia has – as of March 11 – reported no new confirmed cases for more than two weeks.
Yardolo feels doubly blessed – not only for surviving the deadly virus, but also for having been spared the stigma suffered by most survivors when returning to their local communities.
“I am not worried about stigma or discrimination, because going through the Ebola sickness by itself is a stigma – and I survived it,” she told AA. “There is nothing to be afraid of now.”
Yardolo noted a particular family in her community who had shown generosity to both her and her family.
“Mr. Dixon Tumei and his family really showed us love,” she said, smiling.
For days, Tumei and his children would fill all the tubs and buckets in Yardolo’s yard with water and help her family with food.
“But there are some who just don’t care at all,” she noted. “But this does not worry me. Especially in this Ebola crisis, we don’t blame them.”
Yardolo is particularly grateful for the love and affection her husband, Steve, has shown her – unlike many others who had abandoned their spouses due to Ebola infections.
Ever since she contracted Ebola and was admitted to the ETU, her husband has been very supportive – up to the day of her discharge from hospital.
Steve told AA that he regularly visited his wife at the ETU and constantly spoke with her.
He is ready to give her any support that will keep their household safe and healthy, including a recommended 90-day moratorium on sex.
“I have even agreed to an additional 90 days,” a smiling Steve told AA.
The 90-day period is meant to prevent Ebola survivors from inadvertently infecting their partners.
According to health experts, the Ebola virus can live in the sperm and infect a partner through unprotected sex.
“I can jokingly tell my wife to eat more food and drink more water so the virus can leave her system,” said Steve, who sat next to her for the entire interview.