I used to do well with BRAC. I took the loan I am currently repaying, I think two months after the Ebola crisis became intense. I used to work in town on 21 Malama Thomas Street and my business was doing fine.
My husband had two brothers living in Kenema and Makeni whom I used to supply most of the clothes I made to sell. When the crisis became intense, the brothers came to Freetown, where they attended a funeral. They did not know that the man who died had Ebola and they participated in washing the dead body. Both of them ended up getting sick and died.
At that point, I was faced with huge challenges all at once. We had to pay our rent, we lost money during the crisis, my husband’s brothers died suddenly, and we did not even have the privilege of communing in one place, as a family, to process and talk about their deaths. At that time in Sierra Leone, it was impossible to congregate with people or casually visit people’s homes.
That situation really affected me and my family. It caused my family and I to relocate to the Western side of Freetown (residential not business) side of Freetown, where we now live. I was very afraid. We were so afraid.
For someone like me who has to take my clients’ measurement for clothes, it became impossible because we had been warned not to touch other people.
This disrupted us seriously so we had to move. At first, we were downstairs, but my husband was very afraid of the Ebola disease. When he realized clients were still coming to the shop for clothes, he said to me that if I got the disease from my interactions at work, I should not bring it home. I had to close my shop.
So I faced a lot of challenges. For tailoring, you can’t just look at the client and sew, you have to touch them. In my work, I have to touch people. So the Ebola really affected my business but I thank God that we are still here. No one got sick in the compound where we live and none of my employees got sick either. We give thanks to God for that.
At first, I was not aware that BRAC was one of the organizations helping to fight the Ebola crisis. But once I went to the office and overheard how BRAC was helping, then I started seeing the banners and billboards. It is a good thing for a country to have such support when it’s in need. BRAC and other organizations were a great help to the country. Maybe, if they were not around many more of us would have died. So they did a great job and we hope that we can continue the relationship till the end of time.