When life turned upside down

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When life turned upside down A book on ebola

Hijltje Vink With illustrations from Marijke ten Cate, Irene Goede and Jet van der Horst

This publication could be done thanks to the help of many people: Text:

Hijltje Vink

Translation Dutch - English:

Bob & Annet Landon

Translation Dutch - French:

Maaike Luth


Marijke ten Cate, Irene Goede and Jet van der Horst – Atelier Koewegje, Zwolle

Design: Publisher: Editor: And:

BEEEP grafisch ontwerp bno, IJsselmuiden Aukelien Wierenga Kirsten Niehof Ando graphic, Den Haag PKN wijkgemeente De Oostpoort Gouda Adrienne Blomberg/Geneva Global


Ten Brink, Meppel

© 2014 HIJLTJE VINK/UITGEVERIJ JONGBLOED - HEERENVEEN All rights reserved. www.royaljongbloed.com

My father always told us a story when we did not want to go to school. It was a story about the civil war from long ago. My dad himself was then still in school. One time when he and his brother were coming home from school they heard the sound of cars and loud music and all at once there were . . . soldiers – young boys – just a little older than my father. Out of nothing they came into the city with guns and knives. They crawled along the ground like snakes. They hid themselves behind small walls, slipped through closed fences and destroyed everything they came upon. Before anyone could mount a good defense, the city was in the hands of the soldiers. It was terrible and there was blood everywhere. And it stayed that way in the time that followed. The city was occupied and the soldiers were the bosses. Life completely changed, especially when the schools were closed down. The worst part for my dad was not being able to go to school. Children also couldn’t play outside. Imagine you might get hit by a grenade or a stray bullet. You could get killed. There was almost nothing to eat. It was an awful and miserable time. This is the story my dad always told us when we didn’t want to go to school. My dad . . . who is dead now.


Hello, my name is Joshua and I am ten years old. I live in Liberia. I live in a small community close to a big city. We live in the part near the clinic because my father works there. My father is a healthcare worker. All day long he takes care of people who are sick. He comes home only at the end of the afternoon. A lot of times I wait for him by the water pump and we walk on together. Before we go indoors, we sit for a little while on the bench, my father’s bench that stands in front of our house. For me that’s the best time of the day because my father comes home ... it is as if the sun begins to shine.


Everyone in our community knows my father. I think this is because he is so friendly and likes to help people. Sometimes he is also a bit of a teacher. He knows what’s good and what’s not, and also he says it. I learn a lot from, him just like other people. I love my father and I am proud of him. It is not only me. My sisters Christina and Martha also adore him, as well as Johnson, Immanuel, Gift and Precious who also live with us. They are not my brothers and sisters, but we all live together. My father has rented two rooms for us in this house. We are one big family, my father always says. And that’s right. Being family is at the heart of our home.


We live in a nice community – not too big and not too small. There is a church, a mosque, a school, a telephone booth and a store where people can get something to eat or drink. There’s a market almost every day. Often it is buzzing with activity. People sell charcoal, as well as baked bananas and fried fish. There’s also cassava and roasted vegetables, and there are donuts, peanuts and candy for sale. There are two water pumps in our village. In the morning Christina and I have to get water from there. With heavy jerrycans on our heads we walk back. After that we go to school. After school I often play with Patrick who lives next door. First we wash our school uniforms. After that there is more than enough to do. We play with an old tire or ride an old bicycle we found. We make small lights from an old pocket flashlight, or we play football, just having fun. Sometimes we have to help fix the roof when the sheets got blown off. We feel nice and safe in our community.

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At least, we used to feel safe. Not so much anymore. It seems everyone is a bit scared; they are scared of a new sickness called ‘ebola’ and they think no one gets cured from that disease. Papa heard about it first, on the radio. He thought, this can’t be true. It is such a strange disease. But it really is true. Now the ebola songs on the radio tell us about it the whole day. I find that strange. I have often been sick, but of course I got better. That’s because my body can fight against the germs. With ebola that’s not so. The ebola germs crawl like small snakes into your body and immediately destroy everything. Before you know it, you’re deathly sick.

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When life turned upside down Activity book on ebola

This book is only for you. No one may look inside it unless you want them to. This is your workbook. Name:


Assignment 1 Joshua and you Joshua is ten years old. Make a drawing of yourself here. That is you.

Joshua is a boy and he is 10 years old. Who are you? How old are you and what do you look like? Joshua boy/girl age hobby I am proud of...


boy 10 fishing my father

sisters/brothers funny habit important people I love... what I want to be when I grow up I like to listen to... Maybe Joshua and you look a lot like each other. Maybe not at all. Anyway, Joshua wants to be your friend and help you understand more about ebola. 2

Assignment 2 You and your community Joshua lives in a nice community. Where do you live? I live Make a drawing of your house and the neighborhood where you live.

Now answer these questions. 1. What is the nicest thing about your house? 2. Who do you live with? 3. What kind of work do the adults in your house do? 4. What is your favorite thing about your community? 5. What chores do you have to do before you go to school? 6. What do you do when you get home from school? 7. Perhaps school is closed. What do you do all day? 8. What is your favorite subject at school? 9. Do you sometimes listen to the radio?


Assignment 3 What do you know about ebola? Answer these questions, or talk about them in your group. 1. When did you first hear about ebola? 2. Do you know how you can get it? 3. Do you know how not to get it? 4. How can you keep yourself from getting ebola? 5. Have you heard anything about ebola on the radio? 6. Joshua’s father is not afraid of Patrick who has gotten over ebola. Would you be afraid? Why or why not? 7. Do you know an ebola song? Write it down here.


Now do this test. What is true and what is not true?

true false

If you have a fever, stomach ache and muscle pain, you have ebola. If anyone in your neighborhood has ebola then you get it too. You cannot be healed from ebola. There is no medicine against ebola. The ‘ebola snakes’ die from chlorine bleach and soap. You can sleep in the same bed as an ebola patient. You can still get ebola from someone who has been healed. You get ebola if you touch the poo-poo of someone who is sick. You also must stay away from vomit, blood and urine. You must not touch someone who has died. When someone has ebola, the traditional medicineman can help. When you play with monkeys you can get ebola.