The former fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first ebola victim to die on U.S. soil earlier this month, said the stigma attached to the virus has ruined her life. A local church is now rallying behind her by raising funds to help her rebuild her life.
Last week Louise Troh, 54, was released from a 21-day quarantine after being cleared of the ebola virus; however, she says that her life is now in ruins.
"This destroyed my whole life," Troh told The Associated Press on Thursday. "I am hurt, I am displaced, I have this ebola stigma on me and no one will take me in."
The nursing home worker and her family were forced out of their contaminated Dallas apartment shortly after Duncan, a Liberian national, tested positive for the deadly virus last month. They lost most of their possessions as hazmat teams destroyed them as a cleansing precaution and Troh claims she is now homeless and being stigmatized by the community.
The grieving mother says local landlords have cited different reasons in denying her rental applications but that the real reason is fear relating to the ebola stigma.
State and federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, or familial status.
"They are treating me like a foreigner," said Troh, who is an American citizen. "America thinks we do not deserve better."
Wilshire Baptist Church, where Troh is a congregant, is coordinating efforts with the city of Dallas to help Troh recover and get back on her feet. She currently earns just $9 an hour and subsequently needs all the help she can get.
Fellow congregants at Wilshire are trying to raise funds to buy a house in Troh's old neighborhood that the church can then rent to her.
"She doesn't have a permanent residence at this point. She's lost everything that she owns in the apartment. She lost the man she loves," Troh's pastor, Senior Pastor George Mason, said. "We want to restore what's lost but more than that, we want to give her a running start on her new life."
Duncan is believed to have contracted ebola, also known as ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), in Liberia where there have been 3,834 reported cases and 2,069 related deaths this year as of Oct.1 2014, according to CDC. According to Troh, he did not know he had the virus upon returning to the U.S. last month.
Since he died at a Texas hospital on Oct. 8 two nurses Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, contracted ebola while treating him. They are now both free of the disease after undergoing intensive treatment.
"We pray that God will bring healing to all in our community soon," Troh said in a previous statement.