The last 10 months have been particularly hard for the West African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Ebola outbreak has taken its toll; 14591 people infected and 10144 deaths (CDC March 16). It looks like the end of December 2014 was the turning point. Case numbers have decreased significantly and since last week there are no more cases of Ebola in Liberia.
As the countries are already discussing the after Ebola strategies to get life back to normal ASAP and prevent future outbreaks, the indirect effects are evident: schools have been closed since last summer (scheduled to reopen March 30 in Sierra Leone), thousands of people have lost their jobs and basic needs have become scarce.
Bureh Town, Sierra Leonine paradise and the location of the surf club, suffered too. Thankfully everybody is safe and sound (The community of Bureh has done excellent work to prevent Ebola cases), but the beaches have been empty for a long time. And no business, means no life.
Now that the ‘tide’ has turned and it’s considered save to visit the beaches again, the expat community and the large pool of aid workers are coming back in big numbers; one advantage of bad times.
Last week’s full moon provided some nice waves and instantly Bureh Town changed in the vibrant place it used to be before the outbreak; surf, beach volleyball, fresh seafood, coconuts directly from the tree, bonfires, cold beers and a lot of happy faces. The Surfing Salone crew is very glad to see smiles back on the faces of the Bureh beach boys and slowly start talking about planning shooting the documentary later this year.
But we are not there yet. Ebola is not over. With quarantined houses, contract tracing, social mobilisation and travelling restrictions as the weapons of choice, still 5-15 people on average per day get infected in Sierra Leone. Jahbez and his crew are very positive, as always: “Mama Salone will thrive again.” Step by step or ‘small small’ as they use to say here.