IMPACT

Why This 'Miracle' Boy Who Beat Ebola Symbolizes Hope For Sierra Leone

08/12/2014 02:27 pm ET | Updated Aug 12, 2014

While the unprecedented spread of Ebola continues plaguing West Africa, an image of one boy has captured a wave of hope for the people of Sierra Leone.

Vandy, a 7-year-old who contracted the virus more than a month ago, is now Ebola-free after struggling through serious symptoms of the potentially fatal virus, according to UNICEF.

"Little Vandy provided laughter at the most unlikely moments inside that ward," a volunteer nurse told UNICEF. "I’m so happy for his recovery."

Vandy is one of a handful of success stories UNICEF featured on its blog, highlighting stories of survival amid widespread uncertainty.

Sierra Leone has been one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak, with several hundred killed due to the virus, the Guardian reported. Unwarranted blame has only made it more difficult for the people of Sierra Leone to combat the disease, as the virus is new to the region: Health workers have been stigmatized and threatened, while conspiracies point blame and distrust at the country's government.

On Saturday, Guinea closed its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia in an attempt to halt the spread of the epidemic.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a congressional hearing last Thursday that the current crisis is on pace to infect more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined.

"If you leave behind even a single burning ember, it's like a forest fire," he said of the difficulty in containing the disease, according to the Associated Press. "It flares back up."

But UNICEF is remaining hopeful. As a guest contributor on the organization's blog wrote last week, Sierra Leone is in a "unique" situation, as rates of survival continue to climb with the number of new infections. As of last Thursday, 143 people who had previously been infected were declared free of Ebola -- a disease that kills up to 90 percent of patients, according to the World Health Organization.

To support UNICEF and its efforts to stop the spread of Ebola, visit the organization's website.

Related on HuffPost:

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  • A volunteer walks at a cemetery near the Mediciens Sans Frontieres treatment centre in Kailahun
  • Volunteers prepare to remove the bodies of people who were suspected of contracting Ebola and died in the community in the village of Pendebu, north of Kenema
  • EPA
    A Liberian woman prays for God's intervention in eradicating Ebola during a Women in Peace building Program (WIPNET) official launch of a book of condolences in memory of all Liberians who lost their lives due to Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia
  • Members of Women in Peace Building Networkpray on a field not far from the residence of Liberia's president, in Monrovia, to drive away Ebola from Liberia.
  • Liberian children lay flowers in memory of all Liberians who have died of the Ebola virus at the Women in Peace building Program
  • Liberian children offer prayers with flowers in memory of all Liberians who have died of the Ebola virus
  • A handout photo released by the Spanish Defense Ministry shows several paramedics wearing protective suits as they mov Spanish missionary Miguel Pajares, who is infected with ebola, into an ambulance upon his arrival at Spanish Air Force base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, Spain, 07 August 2014. Pajares and missionary Juliana Bohi, who is not infected, were moved to Carlos III Hospital, in Madrid, to be treated after they arrived from Liberia on board a Spanish Air Force plane.
  • Liberian Muslims perform prayers before the burial of Ebola victims in the Banjor Community on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia 06 August 2014. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 932 patients have died from Ebola in West Africa with most of the latest deaths reported in Liberia. WHO officials are meeting in Geneva to discuss the global implications and response to the outbreak. In Nigeria a second person a nurse who treated an Ebola patient has died.
  • Liberian nurses carry the body of an Ebola victim from a house for burial in the Banjor Community on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia 06 August 2014. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 932 patients have died from Ebola in West Africa with most of the latest deaths reported in Liberia. WHO officials are meeting in Geneva to discuss the global implications and response to the outbreak. In Nigeria a second person a nurse who treated an Ebola patient has died.
  • Liberian woman weeps over the death of a relative from Ebola in the Banjor Community on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia 06 August 2014. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 932 patients have died from Ebola in West Africa with most of the latest deaths reported in Liberia. WHO officials are meeting in Geneva to discuss the global implications and response to the outbreak. In Nigeria a second person a nurse who treated an Ebola patient has died.
  • EPA
    Liberian nurses bury the body of an Ebola victim in the Banjor Community on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia 06 August 2014. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 932 patients have died from Ebola in West Africa with most of the latest deaths reported in Liberia. WHO officials are meeting in Geneva to discuss the global implications and response to the outbreak. In Nigeria a second person a nurse who treated an Ebola patient has died.
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