Voices of the NIH Community

“I’m down to zero”

Patrick Faley, a Liberian Ebola survivor and chair of the country’s Ebola Survivor Network, tells Laura McNay, operations lead for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Ebola efforts in West Africa, about the ostracism he faced when he returned to his home and the toll it has taken on his family.


Patrick Faley: The doctor told me that I have malaria positive and then things were still not improving medically.  This morning my dad put me into the car and then we went to the hospital where I really got to know that I was an Ebola patient. 

I saw people dying.  I saw children screaming, fighting death, so I was really having a kind of fear because, Laura, I can tell you I know the symptoms of death.  I lost nine of my colleagues that were around me.  I saw then being placed into the plastic bag where they usually put the body, so I was just waiting for my time.

Laura McNay: When did you realize that you were going to survive?

Patrick Faley: When Dr. Soka Moses came in and said the virus was leaving me gradually.

Laura McNay: And what happened when you got home to your family?

Patrick Faley: When I saw my son, he has also come down with a virus so he was being placed in the ambulance and then taken back to where I came from.  So the day was not too good, you know.

Laura McNay: Patrick, how old was your son and what was his name?

Patrick Faley: Eight months old.  His name was Momo Gaiya Faley.  I used to love him so much--

Laura McNay: You also lost your mom to Ebola, is that correct?

Patrick Faley: Yeah.  I was so sad; 2014 year was a kind of terrible year for me.

Laura McNay: How did your community react to knowing you had the Ebola virus?

Patrick Faley: Negatively.  I thought the community could have received me, received us, my family, but when the community got a note I was positive, it was like a fistfight, you know.  Every morning the trackers would come and see who all started showing symptoms.  They used some provocative words.  There would be a kind of commotion between my family and the tracker.  So, the response was unacceptable.

Laura McNay: Today does the community accept you and your family or is it still difficult, months later?

Patrick Faley: It’s still difficult because I’m no more participating in active community activities, so the community they are not really accepting me anymore.  They are not accepting our family.  I lost my job.  Really I’m down to zero.  All I worked for the past five years, I just lost it within a month’s time and I’m just starting from scratch.

Laura McNay: You’re part of an Ebola survivor’s network.  Tell me what that is and how you came to be the president of that network.

Patrick Faley: We have lost all of our materials and we don’t have friends to really sit with.  Some lost their parents and their guardians.  We realized that international community and the local and national NGOs would come to our aid so we organized ourselves and then I became the National President of the Ebola Survivors in Liberia on the fourth of December, 2014. 

We know there are good people all over the world and we know that these people will try to bring back our hope, dreams and aspirations.

This page last reviewed on February 27, 2023