SOS CHILDREN'S VILLAGES - USA: Three Years after Ebola Killed Her Parents: Alphia’s Story

Alphia with her SOS mother Waletor

MONROVIA, Liberia—Ebola was first reported in Liberia in March 2014. For the next year, the deadly virus would spread throughout the country like wildfire, killing nearly 5,000 people and infecting thousands more.

The deadly virus left thousands of children orphaned—not just in Liberia but also in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, where another 6,500 people died from the disease. Six-year-old Alphia was one of these orphaned children.

Thanks to our donors, in 2015, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia was able to welcome about 70 orphaned children such as Alphia into loving SOS Families at the SOS Village in Monrovia, the country’s capital.

The adjustment to a new family was extremely challenging for Alphia, who was joined by her baby brother. Alphia used to stand in the corners of the house and sob quietly. She also refused to eat or talk to anyone.

“I quickly noticed that Alphia was sad. She did not respond to me,” said Waletor, Alphia’s SOS Mother. “The love and warmth we extended to her was met with loud cries. She also seemed tired and weak, probably from crying and not eating enough. This child had witnessed so much pain and suffering. I was brokenhearted, which motivated me at the same time. I had to make sure they found happiness again.”

A psychologist made home visits to help Alphia cope with her emotions. She also worked with Waletor on how to provide Alphia with constant reassurance and extra support to help her recover from her trauma.

“Alphia was in a dark place and I needed to draw her out,” Waletor said. “I needed to win her trust and be her friend. So every day, I would have conversations with her. At first they were monologues, but then I started telling her stories with all my children present. I noted that after some time, she would smile.”

Because of Waletor’s devotion and hard work, Alphia’s smiles eventually turned into conversations.

“One day, out of nowhere, Alphia told me that she had a story to tell. You can imagine my shock, though I did not show it. This was the first time I had heard her speak since joining us. I was very happy that day.”

Today, Alphia is a much different girl than she was when she arrived at the SOS Village in 2015.

Every day after completing her homework, she meets up with her friends in the play area to see who can jump the fastest. Alphia always wins.

Alphia is not only popular for her athleticism, but she is also known for her beautiful voice; she sings in the SOS Village choir. She is also an honor student of SOS Kindergarten Monrovia for her outstanding academic performance.

The SOS Village in Monrovia is one of two SOS Villages in the country, where about 200 children—once without a family to care for them—are now growing up in loving, stable families under the care of an SOS Mother.

*Names of the children were changed to protect their privacy.

Photo Credit: 
Simon Tokpohozin / SOS Children's Villages