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Life with a New Family

PHOTOS BY SARAH GRILE

In March of 2015, Sarah worked on a photo essay about Mercy Kennady as part of a follow up story for UNICEF. Mercy’s mother had passed away from Ebola and she had nowhere to go. She was taken to a UNICEF supported interim care center where she spent 21 days and was later welcomed into the house of a neighbor.

 MONROVIA, LIBERIA - March 10, 2015: Mercy Kennedy, 9, is seen at the More Than Me Academy and in the school vehicle that takes her home. This is Mercy's first year attending school.

At the age of 9, Mercy was given a grant to attend school for the first time in her life. Her mother had never been able to afford to send her to school. It took Mercy time to catch on but her teachers have seen improvement as time has passed. 

 MONROVIA, LIBERIA - March 10, 2015: Mercy Kennedy, 9, is seen at the More Than Me Academy and in the school vehicle that takes her home. This is Mercy's first year attending school.

“She loves being around her friends. Everyone opens their arms to her. She never acts like anything bad happened to her in the past. She’s always smiling," said a teacher of Mercy. 

Fatu Johnson, pictured above on the left, speaks with Martu Weefor, Mercy's foster mother, at her house to let her know that Mercy was having a hard time with writing and completing her assignments. Martu asked the teachers to be patient with Mercy since it is her first time attending school. 

Fatu Johnson, pictured above on the left, speaks with Martu Weefor, Mercy's foster mother, at her house to let her know that Mercy was having a hard time with writing and completing her assignments. Martu asked the teachers to be patient with Mercy since it is her first time attending school. 

 Martu Weefor, Mercy's foster mother, helps her change out of her school uniform after arriving home from school. 

 Martu Weefor, Mercy's foster mother, helps her change out of her school uniform after arriving home from school. 

Mercy plays with friends in her neighborhood after arriving home from school. 

Mercy plays with friends in her neighborhood after arriving home from school. 

According to UNICEF, over 16,000 children from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone lost a parent during Ebola. Many children like Mercy have since been cared for by neighbors, friends and family members. Patience, Mercy's foster sister, says, "she still has her child memories at the back of her. She still has friends around. The only thing is just a person who is missing."