Het was nog geen negen uur ’s ochtends en ik zat al huilend achter mijn laptop. Nee, niet omdat die kapot was. Al zou ik daar, eerlijk is eerlijk, ook misschien wel een traan om laten.

Het kwam door het verhaal van de Noorse psychologe Ane Bjøru Fjeldsæter, die een maand in het ebolabehandelcentrum van Artsen zonder Grenzen in Monrovia, Liberia werkte. In haar verhaal Mijn vriend aan de andere kant van het oranje hek vertelt ze over Patrick, een zesjarig jochie met ebola.

Na het lezen van haar verhaal, besloot ik een brief aan Ane te schrijven. Om haar te laten weten wat voor prachtig stoer persoon ik haar vind. En ik wilde haar bedanken, voor het voelbare verschil dat iemand als Ane in deze wereld maakt:

Dear Ane,

This morning when i openend my laptop, the newsletter from MSF popped up and for a change i decided to read your story about Patrick. You had me crying before i even had breakfast.

I say, ‘for a change’, because most of the times i take a quick glance at the (often heartbreaking) MSF-stories and hit the delete button. Don’t get me wrong, this is not out of lack of interest. But sometimes it’s so much easier not to read about ebola, violence and people like you staking their own lives to help others. I know this sounds selfish…

But today i decided differently. And i’m so glad i did. Your story made me realize that i should read your stories. All of your stories. 

I don’t know you, just your story. But it tells me that your a warm, kind and sensitive human being.  And you’re tough. Like a super hero! You could have a “normal” life, but you chose differently. 

Every day I tell myself: Ane, don’t lose your heart to this child who no longer belongs among the living. He is here for a week and then will be gone forever. How will you do your job once he has gone? Don’t you know what you are dealing with here?

I tell myself this every day, and I never listen. It is impossible not to look out for his crooked smile once I arrive at work in the morning.” 

Your story also tells me you care about the people you work with. And that this makes your work even harder. It reminds me of my little

Patrick is genezen verklaard. Foto: Morgana Wingard

Patrick is beter verklaard. Foto: Morgana Wingard

sister. She’s a pediatric nurse and sometimes she’s so mad at herself for caring so much about the kids she works with. Especially when she knows some of them will not be there next week. But i think it’s her strength. It makes her an outstanding nurse. If she didn’t care so much, she probably wouldn’t have been a pediatric nurse in the first place. 

If you, Ane, didn’t care so much about the well being of Patrick and all those other people out there, you might not have been in Liberia at all. So i want to thank you for caring. You make a tangible difference in this world. 

“I make my way out. I don’t want to start crying inside the goggles. I hate myself for having met this kid. Why do I never stay at home?

I take the rest of the day off. I promise myself I will get a normal job. 

The next morning, something drives me back. I want to be there for Patrick’s father, no matter what he is going through.” 

Even in times of doubt you keep doing your job. You inspire people, including me, to step up and think about what we could contribute to this world. I admire you and what you’re doing for the Liberians over there. And i wanted you to know that. 

I wish you all the best.

Kind regards,

Rachel van de Pol
The Netherlands