Marie Conteh lives with her husband and three children in the village of Robuya in Makari Gbanti, Chiefdom of Bombali District in Northern Sierra Leone. In that community, farming is the main souce of livelihood.
Robuya is among the communities that were hit hard by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with over 90 reported death cases. Robuya is a Muslim dominated community. It has a primary school and all the children go to Makeni for secondary learning. The community does not have pipe borne water or electricity. Most of the houses are mud bricks, with corrugated iron.
With a small starting capital of 15 dollars from her Village Savings and Loans Association, supported by CARE, Marie was able to start a local food business making rice with soup and vegetable sauce. With the income of her business she was able to feed the family and support the education of her children, their healthcare and clothing.
Marie's business started to grow, yet little did she know that she had started her cookery business a year before the Ebola virus epidemic struck Sierra Leone and her community.
In 2014, right after the outbreak, Marie faced difficult times. The consequences of the epidemic were devastating for Marie and her family as three members of the family - two siblings and a step child - were infected and died. Marie and her family were quarantined for 42 days and all their personal belongings were burnt. This traumatic experience had great influence on all family members, as well as on their crops which were yet to be harvested from the farm. Resulting in a food, as well as a financial, loss.
When the epidemic was at its end, Marie had to start her business from scratch. But she never gave up. With a loan from the Women in Enterprise programme, she was able to restart her Cookery business and pursue her dreams.