Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries, was startlingly unprepared for the Ebola outbreak that tore through the country last year. It had only 120 doctors for a population of 6 million people, and life expectancy hovered below 50 years. The Rhode Island-sized district where the disease first struck lacked both electricity and paved roads.
But the country is rich in a resource that may best promote recovery from an epidemic that killed nearly 4,000 people and turned whole communities against one another: forgiveness.
“It begins with honest conversation,” says Keppa. “I wanted him to know that by isolating his son, we prevented others from getting sick here. He died, but that was the last case we had in this village.”
Just over a year after their ordeal, Tommy and Keppa stand side by side as they recount the story, not betraying even a flicker of the hurt and suspicion that both men say nearly broke them after the younger Tommy’s death.