What do you know about Ebola? Q&A from across Rwanda

By Noa Avishag Schnall
On 23 September 2019 at 10:44

It has been over a year since the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo. We sat down with Rwandan children, families and religious leaders to find out what they have learned to prevent the disease.

With the ongoing Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda is at high risk of cross-border transmission. In July 2019, two cases of Ebola were confirmed in Goma, a major transit hub on the border with Rwanda, heightening the risk of transmission.

UNICEF and the Government of Rwanda work tirelessly to spread potentially life-saving information and awareness on Ebola, including how to prevent the disease and what to do if there is a case in Rwanda. We sat down with a few people throughout our travels to find out just how much people have learnt.

Kayijuka Asumani, 83, is an Elder at Moskit Madina in the centre of Rwanda's capital, Kigali. He has learnt a lot about Ebola prevention from Friday prayers, when the Imam peppers religious messages with Ebola awareness information.

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Kayijuka Asumani. I am 85 and an elder at Moskit Madina here in Kigali.

I have been coming to this mosque for prayers since it was built in 1995. I am also on the committee of the mosque and I am in charge of enforcing the rules.

What did you know about Ebola before today?

I heard about Ebola on radio and in the news, and that it has been detected in neighboring DR Congo and Uganda.

What did you learn from today’s sermon about Ebola?

I have learnt ways to mobilise people to prevent Ebola, and to spread message to others to prevent the disease. We also need to respect rules, because Rwanda has established measures that allow us to protect ourselves. If you have traveled to a place where there is Ebola, you must come and be tested by specialists, and watch for signs of high body temperature.

I understood that this sermon was about sensitizing people who were in the mosque today, who came to learn. And those who did not know have now learnt how to avoid the disease.

What information about Ebola will you pass on to friends and family?

The signs of Ebola, like having an unusually high body temperature. Also bleeding from all outlets of the body, and diarrhea. If any of these signs are present, I would advise that person to quickly make their way to the clinic. And to those around him or her, do not be quick to touch them, instead, quickly inform the relevant authorities and those at the hospital before that person interacts with and touches other people.

Umutoni Denise, 30, is a regular churchgoer at Victory Church in Nyakabanda, Kigali, Rwanda. Today she brought her four children to hear the Ebola preparedness sermon by Reverend Liberatha Uwamariya.

Can you please introduce yourself to us?

My name is Umutoni Denise and I am 30 years old with four children. I live here in Nyakabanda, Kigali and I have been coming to Victory Church since I was eleven years old.

What is your relationship with Reverend Uwamariya here?

Mama Pastor? I have known her a long time. Eleven years.

Did you know anything about Ebola before coming to church today?

I knew that it is important to prevent it. I knew what Ebola is.

What new things did you learn about Ebola in the sermon today? What will you change in your daily routine from the knowledge you learned?

I learnt that everything we do must be clean and hygienic. The thing I am going to change is to be cleaner. I will start washing my hands with soap, because I usually wash hands with just water, but now, I will start also using soap.

What information from the sermon will you pass along to your friends and family?

I will help sensitise people about the disease, because some deny its presence. First I will make them understand that the disease is around and that they have to prevent it.

12-year-old Habinshuti Fabrice came to learn about Ebola at the UNICEF-supported road show in Nyamasheke District.

What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Habinshuti Fabrice and I am 12 years old. I am a primary school student here in Shangi Sector, Nyamasheke District.

I heard about this community event on Ebola at school today, and I stopped by on my way home.

What did you learn at today’s roadshow?

I learnt that if I want to prevent Ebola, I should not eat dead wild animals and that I should avoid going to places where there are cases of Ebola.

What would you tell other children who did not come to today’s show about Ebola?

I would tell them not to go to places where there are cases of Ebola, and to not eat dead wild animals.