The Ebola epidemic has rampaged through West Africa these past six months. Official numbers peg those affected at 6,000, while deaths from Ebola number half of that. Those only represent official numbers. Unofficially, those affected could be more. Only now have governments, including the United States, taken notice. Only now has humanitarian aid flowed into the countries.
One young woman will not receive any of that aid. Marie Finda Kamono, 33, was infected and passed away from the virus before any help could arrive to West Africa. French photographer Sylvain Cherkaoui captured her last days alive.
Kamono waits for the doctors summoned by her sister Fatou. The villagers keep their distance from Kamono.
Before the doctors have arrived, Kamono needs to use the restroom. This turns into an arduous task. The early symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain have set in. Kamono, hunched over, comes out 10 minutes later.
A doctor from the non-profit, Doctors Without Borders, arrives and begins Kamono’s examination. Kamono’s temperature reaches 36.6 Celsius. High, but not yet a clear indication of infection.
Walking to the Ambulance
Even thought the ambulance was parked 30 meters away, Kamono labored through the short walk. She had to rest every few steps.
Arriving at the Ambulance
One painful walk later and Kamono finally reaches the ambulance. By now, she has sweated through her t-shirt and spills water on herself while hurriedly drinking it.
The Ambulance Ride
The dusty old back of a pickup acts as the ambulance to transport Kamono to the hospital. She lies on the mattress and tries to rest.
Kamono reaches the hospital and a nurse escorts her to a special wing for Ebola patients.
Symptoms of Ebola
A doctor wears protective gear and examines Kamono after she complains of abdominal pain. The next day, the doctor diagnoses her with the Ebola virus.
Disinfection of Kamono’s Belongings
Once Kamono receives the Ebola diagnosis, the medical center must disinfect her belongings. They use chlorine as a disinfectant and they use this outhouse toilet as a disinfection room.
Disinfection of Kamono’s Home
Not only do Kamono’s clothes need disinfecting, the cleaning staff head over to disinfect her home.
Protection from the Virus
Nurses and cleaning staff take extra precautions against the virus. Ebola gets transmitted through direct contact. These staffers suit up and make sure they avoid any direct contact.
Preventing Ebola’s Spread
Anything at Kamono’s that chlorine cannot disinfect gets thrown away. Here, cleaning staffers drag out an old mattress.
Chlorine cannot disinfect Kamono’s mattress. As a result, one of the cleaning staff burns it in an open field.
Two days after testing positive for Ebola, Marie Finda Kamono passes away. Her family could not make it in time to see her.
Her family buried Kamono in her colorful outfit, while flowers given by Doctor without Borders lay at her head.
The Risk Remains
Even after death, Kamono’s body poses a risk to others. Workers prepare Kamono’s burial by carefully placing her body in a sealed body bag.
Preparing the Gravesite
Neighbors help prepare Kamono’s gravesite located close to her home.
Friends and family attend the funeral. Kamono’s mother, pictured in blue, looks away in pain.
Longing and Guilt
Marie’s sister, Fatou, sits alone at Marie’s gravesite. She feels tremendous guilt at Finda’s death away from her family. Several community members even blame her that Marie had to stay away from her family.
See more at Cherkaoui’s site.