SHE could have been at home in Hampshire surrounded by her family and friends – but brave nurse Natalie Mounter knew there was only one place she had to be on Christmas Day.
After being moved by the plight of the people in west Africa where the Ebola outbreak has claimed hundreds of lives, Natalie decided to quit her job at a Hampshire hospital and to join the frontline battle against the killer disease.
The 32-year-old joined the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership (KSLP) to help curb the deadly disease which has killed more than 1,700 people in the country alone.
After celebrating Christmas earlier this month with her family in Bishop’s Waltham, Natalie has now returned to the west African country.
While most people across the world exchange presents and gather with their families, Natalie will spend the Christmas period out in the west African country to carry on the daily battle to curb the spread of Ebola and to help those whose lives have been devastated by the epidemic.
Natalie will work today and until 2pm on Christmas Day, after which she plans to have a little celebration with her flatmates.
Their modest decorations include a Christmas tree made out of local cloth, while they have also asked the local tailor to make them their Christmas stockings.
Natalie said: “I would feel quite guilty about being home for Christmas.
“I don't really know how the people there normally celebrate Christmas but I have a feeling it is usually a big party.
“It is obviously not going to be like that this year but I think people will still be celebrating a bit. Normal life is going on a little bit but parties are banned so people will be celebrating in a little way.
“I have brought out mince pies and people are bringing tinsel so we will have a bit of a celebration but I am not sure if we will go crazy because we will be working and it is not the time to celebrate too much.”
Natalie spent 10 days staying with her mum in Bishop’s Waltham, and also visited her dad and friends before she returned to Sierra Leone to carry on her inspirational work.
Of leaving her job at the Basingstoke hospital and working on the frontline against Ebola, Natalie said: “Nobody can understand, but I wouldn't expect people to understand. At the same time, it has just been nice being around people like my family – and being around the love of my family has been really nice.”
Natalie has vowed to stay in the devastated country until Ebola has been eradicated.
She said: “I think I will be there for the next two months, and then I will just take it as it comes.
“At the moment, I just want to get Ebola stopped. It is disheartening sometimes because at the moment, the number of cases continues to rise and you feel like are you fighting a losing battle, but you keep going on.
“The people who I work with are extremely inspiring and very hard working so that spurs me on as well.”