Lee Distrust Transcript


Lee Distrust Transcript


Dealing with distrust was I think the most difficult thing. I told you last time about the whole chlorine. When I was in Bo doing social mobilization, we went to different villages, and Bo was just getting new cases--neighboring Kenema. Kenema, height of the epidemic in July, they were getting controlled. It died down, but then Bo was starting to get new cases and they were getting really scared why we get pockets of cases, where did they come from? We would go out to the villages and ask the chief what happened and why does the chief think it happened. The entire village came close to our car, very upset, very hostile, telling us to leave the chlorine bottle next to the car if we were to walk into the village. We were really confused, and we don't want to go anywhere without chlorine because chlorine is my lifesaver. So we had a local who spoke Mende ask, "What's going on, why is chlorine bad?" And the chief started explaining, "We had a community clinic. A lot of the nurses died, and then a bunch of white-clothed people came in, started spraying inside the clinic. They closed the door, they locked the door, and the spray team said don't go inside." Without telling them when they could go back inside. So the chief thought, oh, it must be really toxic and that's why they told us not to go inside. So, one bad memory. And then when there were other sick people, he called an ambulance. The ambulance team takes the sick person, puts them in the ambulance, closes it and starts spraying outside the ambulance. They thought, oh, there's no ventilation inside and the fume is really toxic, so they're killing the person. Let alone all those sick people never came back, so what's the point of notifying that they have a sick person? We had to explain to them that it's our bad that we didn't tell you when you can go inside. Chlorine kills Ebola virus, but we just want to make sure that it kills Ebola virus completely before you go in and accidentally be exposed to the virus. That's probably why these people told you not to go inside. But we love chlorine--not chlorine itself, but the chlorine solution because I feel really safe, especially in a country where we don't have running water. We demonstrated in front of them, sprayed it on our hands, our boots, all over, and nothing happens, right? So the chief felt comfortable demonstrating the same thing in front of the village members. Village members looked like they were getting, okay, maybe it's okay, and they were starting to talk to us and listen to what we had to say and things like that. It was an eye-opening experience to understand what kind of communication barriers were occurring. Now we needed to move forward with that, chlorine is safe--like we have to incorporate that now. Those kinds of things, you would never know sitting in a room, unless the locals understand that nitty-gritty to tell us.


“Lee Distrust Transcript,” CDC Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed June 14, 2024, http://cdcmuseum.org/items/show/779.