What's happening now with the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa? Time to start building a future.

2014 was the "year of tears" in West Africa. But how's the region doing now?

In September 2014, the CDC estimated that up to 1.4 million people could contract Ebola by January 2015.

To be fair, that was a worst case scenario. And even then, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he doubted that would happen. But the point remains the same: Things were not lookin' good.

"If conditions remain unchanged," explained the CDC, "The situation will rapidly become much worse."


But thankfully, that never happened.

Within a couple months, health officials said they no longer thought those most terrifying estimates would come to pass. The Ebola crisis was far from over, but the tide was beginning to turn.

Why? In part, because of the brave efforts of people like Sister Maria:

Humanitarian Sister Maria saw it all. "2014 was the year of tears," she said. "Everywhere we [were] going, we [were] seeing tears." But 2015 is different — "not so much now."

"2014 was the year of tears. Everywhere we [were] going, we [were] seeing tears. Not so much now."

Sister Maria has been working with Liberian villages, focusing on caring for the hundreds of children who were orphaned by the Ebola outbreak. She's lived in Liberia for 37 years and calls the country home.

Volunteers like Sister Maria, who are on the ground working with West African communities, were — and are — crucial to healing the region.

"We really want to help these countries build up their health systems," explains Denise Rollins, USAID's Ebola coordinator. That way, "whatever comes down the road next, their countries are able to handle these crises."

All images from USAID.

It's not just about getting the number of Ebola cases down to zero, it's about supporting the communities to make sure this type of thing never happens again.

Of course, the work wouldn't be possible without international aid — organizations like USAID and International Medical Corps have been providing aid to the region for some time now. Describing a food delivery that came in late December 2014, Sister Maria said, "Today, you took my nightmare away."

Though the Ebola outbreak never got as bad as it could have, the story is far from over.

What does the aftermath look like? Many children lost their parents. Others lost their jobs or have no food to harvest because they weren't able to plant their crops. Infrastructure crumbled.

"Not only do we have the health crisis," says Denise Rollins, "We have the economic crisis that occurred." Communities in the region are now working with volunteers to regain food security, re-establish markets, and rebuild the infrastructure.

But the people of West Africa are not giving up.

For the children and for the future of their countries, they carry on. "Because of [the children]," says orphanage director Harriet Queniseer, "I feel good about my country's future. It's hopeful."

More
True
the Ad Council - #TrendOnThis
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular