Rao Burial Transcript


Rao Burial Transcript


RAO: It is not a pleasant job. I felt awful. I felt awful for them, for the people doing the job. They often didn't have the proper training. They didn't have the proper equipment or the proper PPE. They're pretty much despised by the population because one of the reasons that Ebola was being transmitted during funerals is that they have these cultural norms that they must, must do to bury somebody who's died. And there are these people dressed in blue garb, all made up, coming to take away their loved one, and sometimes not doing a great job explaining where this loved one was going, how they could--where this loved one was going to be buried, what they were going to do with the body. It also announced to the rest of the villagers that there was a suspect Ebola--or there was a confirmed, at that time, because they were confirming that there was an Ebola patient in that house. So they would get screamed at. They would get spit on. People would take pictures of them and post them on social media. These people just did not want to have their faces shown. It was bad. And it was hard work because it's not like they could drive the car up the hill. Sometimes it's like a half-hour trek up the hill to where this body is. Shrouding the body, spraying everything down, because they had to carry all their equipment up with them, all of the bleach water to do the spray and the de-conning [decontaminating]. They de-con as they come down, they de-con the path on the way down, too, they're de-conning where the body was, de-conning the way down and--

Q: They're carrying this body?

RAO: Carrying the body. I'm dying, and all I'm carrying is my backpack. I'm like sweating buckets. I'm like, I'm not going to make it. [laughs] They're carrying a body in full PPE garb. I don't know how they do it. And they're totally unappreciated. I just felt really--it was a hard job, and it was definitely unappreciated, they were definitely unappreciated. But it was necessary. That was one of the ways that they were able to control the outbreak, was to stop these burial practices and to do safe and medical burials.


“Rao Burial Transcript,” CDC Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed June 14, 2024, http://cdcmuseum.org/items/show/772.