DR Congo

Préférence, a childhood broken by Ebola

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Since the Ebola epidemic hit Beni, a city situated in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the life of Péférence has been completely overturned. Before the epidemic started, the 12-year-old girl was living a happy childhood with her little brothers, her mother and her grandmother.

In August, Préférence’s uncle fell deeply ill and, naturally, Préférence’s mother visited him, without thinking even for a second that he could have contracted the disease. It was only after his death that the diagnosis revealed an infection of the Ebola virus. While visiting her brother, Préférence’s mother was also infected in turn. Very quickly, she perished from the disease. “I hope that God will take care of her,” Préférence sadly says.

Since this sad day, Charlotte, 66 years old, finds herself alone in having to take care of her grandchildren. As Préférence is the oldest child, she has been given many household tasks. Every day, she takes charge of cooking meals for the family, ensuring that the family land is clean, and making sure that water is always available. Préférence also takes care of her little brothers.

Préférence does not have a lot of time to play or have fun, but she never complains about this because she knows that her grandmother needs her help. Despite how her life has been completely overturned, Préférence continues to think about the future. “The Ebola virus disease needs to disappear quickly,” explains the young girl.

Like Préférence, more than 200 children have been deprived of their parents because of the Ebola virus disease. UNICEF seeks to guarantee the physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing of these children. Préférence’s family has been vaccinated and has received psychosocial, nutritional and material aid. In order to bring stability and hope to the future, UNICEF facilitates the reinsertion of children affected by the Ebola virus disease. Préférence has benefited from assistance in school materials in order to allow her to return to school. Determined to succeed her studies, she hopes to find a good job that will allow her to support and provide for the needs of her family. “I want to learn many things,” concludes Préférence, as she looks into the future.