The incredible story of 22-year-old Liberian nursing student Fatu Kekula, who used trash bags to protect herself from Ebola while saving the lives of her family members, inspired people around the world last fall. Fatu’s innovative “trash bag method” was widely praised and is even being taught by aid workers to other West Africans caring for sick loved ones without standard protective gear. But with most schools closed in the country due to the epidemic, Fatu was unsure how she would finish her nursing training. Now, with the help of international supporters, Fatu has the opportunity to finish her education at one of the premier nursing schools in the United States.
Fatu’s story began last summer when her family was struck with the Ebola virus. Thanks to her dedication and ingenuity, three of four family members who caught the virus survived. For weeks, Fatu, worked alone to feed, clean, and provide medical care to her family, in consultation with their family doctor, who would speak to her on the phone but refused to come to the house. She had no access to personal protection equipment other than masks and gloves, so she layered trash bags under and over her boots, as well as putting one over her hair. She wore four layers of gloves on her hands, and a raincoat to help minimize contact with her skin. Multiple times a day, she would painstakingly don her improvised protection in order to care for her desperately ill family.
“I cried many times,” she told to CNN. “I said ‘God, you want to tell me I’m going to lose my entire family?’” But thanks to her care, her patients survived until they could be transferred to beds in a nearby hospital. Sadly, her cousin did not recover, but her mother, father, and sister survived — a remarkable recovery rate for a disease with a death rate of 70%. “I’m very, very proud,” her father said. “I’m sure she’ll be a great giant of Liberia.”
After learning about Fatu’s story, I Am Projects, a non-profit founded by African immigrants in the US to support the education of young Africans, helped her apply for nursing schools outside of Liberia. With its expertise on infectious diseases, including Ebola, Emory University’s School of Nursing was a perfect fit and they gave Fatu a 50% scholarship. To help cover the rest of Fatu’s tuition expenses for her final two semesters, as well as help support her travel and living costs, I Am Projects is currently running a fundraiser — and it’s now at 70% of its goal.
If you would like to help this remarkable young woman finish her nursing degree, you can make a donation at http://iamprojects.org/cause/fatu-kekula-liberia/
For two stories about African girls living through the midst of another epidemic — the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we recommend “The Heaven Shop” for ages 10 to 14 http://www.amightygirl.com/the-heaven-shop
and “Chanda’s Secrets” for 13 and up http://www.amightygirl.com/chanda-s-secrets.
For more stories of Mighty Girls or their loved one grappling with illness, visit our “Life Challenges” section on “Illness/Disease” at http://www.amightygirl.com/…/personal-deve…/life-challenges…
For books about inspiring women doctors and scientists for children and teens, visit http://www.amightygirl.com/boo…/history-biography/biography…