Juliana the brave

This is Juliana (19), an Ebola survivor from Heigbema village outside of Kenema, a district of Sierra Leone that has been ravaged by the outbreak. Juliana caught the virus from her mother, who she had shared a bed with, and then passed it onto her 7-month-old son Alieu who tragically died inside the isolation ward. When I spoke to Juliana two weeks ago she was awaiting the release of her husband from the treatment unit. “My husband is inside, he is improving, I hope he comes out soon”.

Juliana was obviously exhausted by the ordeal she had just suffered, but was also strong, and to me carried the beautiful glow of someone who was ready to start again. I commented on how bright she looked and complimented her on her embroidered skirt and top (there’s never an inappropriate moment for a conversation about fashion). They belonged to her mother and are two of the few items of clothing she now owns.

Juliana_low-res

Ebola survivors are usually forced to burn their belongings when they return to their homes by family members who are scared of infection. Juliana said she has very few clothes remaining in her cupboard as most have been destroyed.

At the time of writing this I spoke to Juliana’s brother Alhassan (another survivor) he shared the crushing news that Juliana’s husband John had passed away two days earlier. Juliana assured me when we met “Our family is strong,”.

A video of Alhassan’s story shot by Mike Duff when we were in Kenema two weeks ago appears on the Guardian site and can be found here. It  further highlights the courage of this family and the growing number of Ebola survivors.

Africana couture in Tooting

It’s not always easy to find an Africana print if you don’t live in Africa. But if you’re in London, the search is over.  Look no further than ‘Susan’s Couture’, a great little store in Tooting Market, just off the High Street. Susan set up shop about three years ago and offers her customers made-to-measure clothes using both euro and Africana fabrics.

P1120641

Susan is a master behind the sewing machine and learnt how to sew without using a pattern in her native Ghana.

P1120647

Her models look effortlessly chic in these Africana frocks all brilliantly accessorised with statement necklaces. And for those who are curious, Susan’s incredible mane-like weave was specially imported from Ghana.  Check out Susan’s website here and you can find Susan at:

Susan’s Couture
Unit 24, Tooting Market
Tooting High St.
SW170RH
Mobile: 07552423785
www.susanscouture.co.uk