A priest who was quarantined after he contracted Ebola has recovered and returned to his parish in Itipo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Source: Rome Reports.
A photo of Fr Lucien Ambunga in quarantine went viral as a symbol of the Ebola epidemic in the republic. In the photo, Fr Ambunga received a distant blessing from Archbishop Coadjutor of Kinshasa, Msgr Fridolin Ambongo Besungu.
Now, those painful memories have been left behind and Fr Ambunga has only has words of gratitude.
“What can I say now? It’s not a lot, but it’s what is in my heart: it is joy, since they said that I was already dead, but the Lord showed me grace and I came back to life,” Fr Ambunga said.
The whole town, in Mbandaka-Bikoro Diocese, has now come back to their parish church. Masses had been cancelled for weeks to avoid the risk of transferring the disease.
The priest returns with a clear mission: to make his community aware that the virus is very real, but the solution is to put oneself in the doctors’ hands, and not sorcerers because the virus is not the result of witchcraft.
“Now, what I have to do first, is make my parish aware that this virus exists (Ebola), they have to accept that. They have to accept, in case they are sick, to go quickly to the hospital, like I did. Then they will have an 80 per cent chance of being cured like me, and to return to the community like me.”
The country has been fighting against an Ebola epidemic for more than a month. This is of particular concern to the World Health Organisation, because it has been detected near densely populated urban centres. So far, almost 50 infections have been recorded that have cost the lives of about 30 people.
World Health Organisation representative Julienne Anoko said care is needed to reintegrate people who have suffered Ebola into their communities.
“Many of them are being stigmatised by their communities, because the communities don’t know. They are afraid,” Ms Anoko said.
The priest who has been cured of Ebola (Rome Reports)
Dramatic photo shows bishop blessing priest in Ebola quarantine (Catholic Herald)