Photographer covering Ebola: The world must see

AP News
Posted: Oct 05, 2014 9:54 AM
Photographer covering Ebola: The world must see

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — The biggest danger in a war zone is not seeing the enemy.

What people face here in Liberia is a war, and no one has seen the enemy.

From the balcony of the hotel that has become the de facto international Ebola crisis headquarters here, the ballet of fancy SUVs never stops. They are ferrying U.N. officials, U.S. military brass, diplomats and foreign journalists.

But never do we see the vehicles of the few non-governmental organizations present in Monrovia, for they are out in the field, along with the under-equipped ambulances and burial teams, at work 24/7 to try to put an end to the Ebola outbreak.

Covering such a virulent disease is a first for me.

I am used to bearing witness to conflicts around the continent, where I fear bullets and machetes. Here, I fear for my health. No level of protection can make you invincible.

Packing for this assignment, I traded my flak jacket and ballistic helmet for protective suits, rubber boots, gloves, goggles and enough chlorine to sanitize a 50,000 liter swimming pool.

Just like in a war zone, you try not to put yourself into a situation where you absolutely need the equipment. Here, constant spraying of chlorine and washing hands and feet to the point of obsession is the norm.

I don't want to photograph dead bodies. I want to concentrate on the living. Here, as in a war zone, they are the ones most affected. Here, like in conflict, the poor and defenseless are paying the price.

Here, like there, you try to tell a story that will have an impact and bring the ones who can act to act.

Many great visual storytellers have done tremendous work here. I just added my small part. I am leaving now, carrying the fear of the plague, monitoring my temperature constantly, and panicking at every little cough, ache or sweat.

Others are coming in to continue telling the plight of the people of Liberia. There are journalists of all media who think telling the story of humanity is well worth the risk. For without that, there is no humanity.