During a recent telephone conversation with my aunt, who lives in Liberia, I could hear trepidation in her voice for the first time. At the same time, though, she remained typically stoic, her faith in God unshakable after surviving two armed insurgencies. “They are saying on the radio that before January [2015] thousands of us will die,” said Auntie Arinah. “This thing is getting very scary. We rebuke those numbers!”

I couldn’t help feeling moved by my aunt’s tenacity in the midst of her anxiety. Ebola fatality projections seem to have created an atmosphere of psychological distress in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, nations still recovering from the trauma of conflict.

There is no math to the roads of Logan Town in Monrovia. In Logan Town, a name that sounds like “Lukin” when spoken with the northern Liberian accent of most of my relatives, the front of a cement house may face the side of another. Two back yards may serve as necessary borders for a make-shift zinc house. This asymmetry is what makes the middle-class neighborhoods of Monrovia and their residents as married as they are. Laughter is a group art, tears are just as intertwined and there are plenty of Ol’ Mas in the pot to choose from.