Daily Life

Life Goes On, Even With The Specter Of Ebola

  • The beach is a perfect playing field for soccer lovers in West Point.
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    The beach is a perfect playing field for soccer lovers in West Point.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • A resident takes in the view from this Liberian slum.
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    A resident takes in the view from this Liberian slum.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • Kids in West Point hold tin cans wrapped with string, part of the kites they're flying.
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    Kids in West Point hold tin cans wrapped with string, part of the kites they're flying.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • In Liberia, lots of people say Ebola isn't real. This sign in a West Point alley challenges that view.
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    In Liberia, lots of people say Ebola isn't real. This sign in a West Point alley challenges that view.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • It's the West African version of bottled water: a refreshing plastic packet.
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    It's the West African version of bottled water: a refreshing plastic packet.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • Residents gather on the main road to read newspaper headlines about Ebola.
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    Residents gather on the main road to read newspaper headlines about Ebola.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • A motorbike rider drives along the main route through West Point.
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    A motorbike rider drives along the main route through West Point.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • Prince, a West Point resident, stands by a garbage dump near a sign that says "No dumping."
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    Prince, a West Point resident, stands by a garbage dump near a sign that says "No dumping."
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • "Broken Trust" is the title of an African movie — and a theme that resonates with West Point residents. Many feel the government hasn't adequately informed them about the Ebola holding center in their midst.
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    "Broken Trust" is the title of an African movie — and a theme that resonates with West Point residents. Many feel the government hasn't adequately informed them about the Ebola holding center in their midst.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR
  • The colorful canoes are used by West Point fishermen.
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    The colorful canoes are used by West Point fishermen.
    Tommy Trenchard for NPR

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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. i i

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

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

Residents of West Point read newspaper articles about the Ebola-related unrest in their community.

Tommy Trenchard for NPR

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."

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