Risking Life For Strangers

Why would someone risk their life for a stranger? Why would a 54-year-old Englishwoman leave her home, her son, her grandchildren and travel nearly 5000 miles (8000 km) to the Ebola hot-zone of West Africa? Why did Cokie van der Velde do it twice? And why is she doing it again?

The deadly Ebola virus has spread through West Africa and threatens to spread further. It has claimed nearly 2,500 lives. The World Health Organisation says the health crisis is unparalleled in modern times, and that the death toll could eventually be in the tens of thousands. The United States has plans to send up to 3000 troops to help combat the epidemic.

On the Why Factor this week, Cokie van der Velde tells Mike Williams about conditions on a Liberian Ebola ward and about the fear she feels as she cleans bodily fluids from the floors and puts the victims into body-bags. It’s an experience which has forced her to reassess her attitude to death - the death of her patients and her own.

Produced by Neal Razzell

(Image of Cokie van der Velde in Guinea. Photo Credit: Medecins Sans Frontieres)

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18 minutes

Last on

Mon 22 Sep 2014 08:32 GMT

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