WE WANT YOU TO LIVE follows one Liberian community on the front lines of Ebola as they fight for survival against the deadly disease and battle to bring the outbreak to an end.
“WE WANT YOU TO LIVE – Liberia’s fight against Ebola” is a deeply human story in times of Ebola. The film’s strictly takes the Liberian perspective; it focuses on the experience of those, who are condemned to stay, condemned to die and also condemned to live. Stanley Juah has survived the Ebola virus. On the day of his release from the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU), Stanley visits the Ebola cemetery in a nearby forest. His gaze wanders over the recent graves; there are already more than ninety, and the gravediggers continue to dig new ones in silent anger. A month ago, Stanley made a fatal decision: he took his son – a high-risk contact – out of quarantine and brought him to his village, Taylor Town. The villagers were against this decision. “Why take such a risk?” asked the village elder. “Your son could carry the virus and infect many people.” But Stanley stood by his decision. Only a few days after Stanley’s son had arrived in the village, he showed first symptoms of the disease and died – but not before infecting several others. First, his siblings fell ill, then Stanley himself. Finally, more than twenty people got infected in Taylor Town. After one month, fourteen had died. After his release from the ETU Stanley knows: the people of Taylor Town are seeking revenge; they have threatened to kill him. He hides out in the capital, Monrovia, where he spends his days in apathy. “I don’t know why God spared my life,” he says. His only remaining hope is a reverend who tries to mediate between him and the enraged villagers of Taylor Town.
While Stanley hides in Monrovia, the Ebola outbreak reaches its peak in rural Liberia. The virus finds its way ever deeper into remote villages, inaccessible for all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, or helicopters. The sick struggle on forest paths to clearings where nurse Mabel Musa and her team load them into their pick-up trucks. Today, Tawoo, his mother Gbelawoh and his aunt Ponawenee came to a forest clearing. They are frightened and show signs of the fever. Ponawenee will be dead four days later while Tawoo will continue to fight the virus. “Am I going to die before my children?” Tawoo asks himself the day his aunt is buried. The disease made him lose weight. But Tawoo is determined to live: he wants to return to his village and his family. His fight against the virus lasts four weeks. Then, he returns to Bomota where they welcome him with open arms – quite unlike Stanley.
“WE WANT YOU TO LIVE – Liberia’s fight against Ebola” depicts the battle that everyone in Liberia had to fight during these difficult times. Some struggle with their guilt and seek redemption. Others are courageous and still question their actions.
Ambulance nurse Mabel Musa risks her life on a daily basis. For a long time, she was too frightened to take on this job – too many of her colleagues had died already. It was her boyfriend Alex Mulbah who finally convinced her to help. “The virus will find its way to me anyhow,” she says. Ebola will change Mabel’s life, will weld her and her boyfriend together, will let their relationship grow and – eventually – give them a child. And still: every day, Mabel prays to God to end this dying. She donates a third of her salary to church so that Ebola will finally disappear from her life – a life that will never again be as it was, simply because she cannot forget the many dead.
Stanley, on the other hand, would rather follow the dead. He feels condemned to live. On a Tuesday in February 2015, he returns to Taylor Town to finally face the angry villagers. With support of the reverend, he seeks redemption – but is Taylor Town ready to forgive?
“WE WANT YOU TO LIVE – Liberia’s fight against Ebola” is a documentary about the devastation the Ebola outbreak has brought upon Liberia. How do people experience an epidemic that was out of control for months, that destroyed the country’s health system and left fear and mistrust in cities and villages? WE WANT YOU TO LIVE – Liberia’s fight against Ebola tells the story of Stanley Juah, a father of four who, through one of his sons, brought the virus to his village and who is now held accountable for the deaths of fourteen people. Stanley’s last hope rests with a Reverend who tries to seek the community’s forgiveness on his behalf. There are health workers such as the nurse Mabel Musa who struggle in the face of this biblical task. After thousands who have perished, Mabel realizes how her country and her people are starting to surrender to this epidemic.