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Life Goes On, Even With The Specter Of Ebola

In another locale, the beach might be lined with "smart hotels and people sipping cocktails out front," says British photographer Tommy Trenchard. He's talking about West Point, a neighborhood in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. It's a densely populated slum of some 70,000, situated on a spit of land with a river on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other.

Residents of West Point read newspaper articles about the Ebola-related unrest in their community.
/ Tommy Trenchard for NPR
/
Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Residents of West Point read newspaper articles about the Ebola-related unrest in their community.

This week, West Point made headlines. Angry residents raided an Ebola holding facility, for people suspected of being infected. They were mad that the government hadn't provided information about the place, and they resented the fact that people from outside their neighborhood were being brought in.

Wednesday morning brought news of a government-imposed quarantine and curfew to contain Ebola, since the patients in the holding center had fled into West Point. Soldiers came in. The residents rioted. Razor wire and patrol boats are now part of the land-and seascape.

Trenchard made pictures of West Point before these troubles. He captured its natural beauty and the joy its residents take in simple pleasures, from flying a kite to kicking a soccer ball on the sand.

"I've been covering Ebola for three months now," says Trenchard, who is based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. "It's an immensely gloomy topic. It's nice to be able to show those little moments of normality that are still going on, even in a place like West Point."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Tommy Trenchard
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