Within the framework of the “Zero Ebola Campaign” the sierra-leonean government, or rather the “NERC” (National Ebola Response Committee), announced a three days lockdown. During the lockdown it is foreseen to do house-to-house checks for sick people who will then immediately be transferred to a treatment centre. The objective is to identify ALL sick people countrywide and to finally get to 0 new cases. The campaign will run for several weeks. It was announced already that in April more locked down weekends are planned.
What does that mean to me as a humanitarian aid worker? Of course, UN, government and NGOs enjoy exceptions. It was announced that a special passport will be necessary for free movement during the lockdown and this passport I received from my employer. Nevertheless, such a lockdown requires certain ahead-planning. Storing enough food for three days in the tropics without electricity? Not easy, if you want to eat something else than cookies. Here a picture of my groceries:
In the WHH Ebola Response WhatsApp Group interesting advice was circulated, for instance this nice compilation here:
Friday, day 1: I regarded this day as a normal working day and went to the office early in the morning. I’ve never before travelled so quickly from my house to the office, I think it took me less than 10 min, compared to usually 25 min. The traffic in Freetown is a nightmare, especially at roundabouts, and you waste a lot of time in the traffic usually. In the office it was nice and quiet, because most colleagues stayed at home. It was perfect to work through long pending documents. It was nice, indeed!
Saturday and Sunday, day 2 and 3: I stayed at home as required by a lockdown. It was a good opportunity to observe how the local people pass their time during a lockdown. Children were playing ball games in hidden corners. Teenager were sitting on the stairs in front of their houses to have a chat. One woman put a chair in front of her door and braided the hair of almost the whole of the female neighbourhood.
All in all the lockdown was a positive experience from my perspective. I had a quiet working space and a weekend at home is not bad to calm down from the busy day-to-day life. Whether the lockdown contributed positively to the fight against Ebola, I do not know.
This article is a translation of the original German Article by Julia