The COVID-19 pandemic has affected thousands of people in Guinea since the first cases were reported in March 2020. The virus has touched people of all ages and status, including youth activist Ibrahima, 24, who was hospitalised for 23 days. “It has been a terrible ordeal, but a learning experience that will inspire me to lead change.”
When Ibrahima started feeling ill, he was tested for COVID-19 and was shocked when the results came back positive. “At first, it was not easy to accept that I was affected by a pandemic that is ravaging the world," he says. "I was traumatised for the first 10 minutes and then several questions crossed my mind.”
“After much thought, I told myself no, why should I let myself panic? I agreed to voluntarily take the test and waited several days for the result. That took great courage and I had to accept my fate, so I asked for an ambulance to come and get me,” explains Ibrahima who is President of Plan International’s Consultative Council of Children and Youth.
“I was proud of myself, as someone who agrees to be tested and treated by the special services has performed a heroic and patriotic act. Not only did I protect my life, but I also helped to protect the lives of many others around me who could have been exposed to the coronavirus through my recklessness, it gave me great moral satisfaction.”
During his time in hospital, Ibrahima says he did not feel alone as he received moral support from his friends and Plan International who checked his progress daily. “There are situations where no words can express our feelings. I was helped to get better, to find my smile and joy of life again through the moral and psycological support of the medical staff, Plan International and my friends who supported me during this ordeal through positive thoughts, prayers and good wishes.”
Ibrahima considers his recovery to be a personal victory. “A great victory, but I was torn between two feelings, joy and sadness because I lost a friend to the virus. Unfortunately, he did not survive.”
Since his release from the treatment centre, Ibrahima has not experienced any discrimination, but is mindful that some COVID-19 survivors are facing stigmatisation and prejudice from their communities.
“Coronavirus is not a curse; it came without being asked and it will go away. Healed people are not monsters, they are not a danger, accept them as they are. They have gone through a terrible time during their hospitalisation, far from their loved ones. After getting better, they need your love and support to ease their pain and help them get back to normal.”
Ibrahima is now even more committed to preventing the transmission of COVID-19. “As the fight continues, I will keep on educating those around me on the need to respect health measures to limit its spread.”
“Coronavirus is not a shameful disease, and I urge all people with this virus to accept treatment. Our lives are connected and the way out of this crisis requires us to think collectively, above ourselves and our own interests. I call on all sections of society to act in accordance with the health regulations in the interest of all of us,” concludes the young activist.