WASHINGTON – The lack of a vaccination or cure for the Ebola virus has made prevention difficult and the spread nearly unstoppable. But that isn’t keeping many people from doing what they can to help contain the deadly virus.
Nonprofits,communities and larger organizations are finding ways to help those affected,through education and donations.
“I began to think of how my own community would respond to this,” Dr. Scott Santibanez,infectious disease specialist,said Monday during a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference call briefing for faith and community based organizations.
Santibanez was one of the first doctors sent to Dallas when Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. His job was to consult with local leaders about how best to help when a person in their community has Ebola. Coming from an immigrant family and being close to his church,he said he could relate to what many Liberian families in Dallas must have felt during and after the Ebola case.
A lot of misconceptions about Ebola made Liberian families,and even people who appeared to be West African,targets of discrimination,Santibanez said. Arming community leaders with basic facts about Ebola,such as that it can only be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids,can alleviate most fear.
Organizations can also help by making donations to those affected by Ebola,he said.
During the 21-day quarantine period 10 people in Dallas faced after having contact with Duncan,community organizations supplied groceries and other basic necessities. IPads were provided to some who had no other way to communicate with the outside world.
Several other community organizations are helping by donating supplies to West Africans in need.
“People have a fear of Ebola coming to the U.S.,and the best way to prevent that is to get these supplies to the people who need it most,” said Liz Mesecher,parish administrator for St. David’s Episcopal Church in Ashburn,Va.
St. David’s has been collecting supplies for the past couple of months to send to Ebola patients in West Africa in partnership with the Liberian Episcopal Community in the United States and three other churches near Washington.
The church’s motivation is the Bromley Mission Ministry,a school for girls in Monrovia,Liberia’s capital,that has been hit especially hard during the outbreak. St. David’s has been working with Bromley for the past decade to educate more than 150 girls each school year.
Bromley,along with all schools in Monrovia,has been closed due to the outbreak,but none of the staff or students has been directly affected by the virus.
This year,instead of holding an annual fundraiser for Bromley,St. David’s has decided to collect items desperately needed in rural Liberia to fight Ebola.
A 20-foot-long shipping container full of supplies such as bleach,hand sanitizer,protective gear and pain relievers will be sent Nov. 9 and should arrive in Liberia four weeks later. The Episcopalian bishop in Liberia will receive the shipment and distribute it to those who need it most.
An Amazon wish list has been created for the group so other churches in the Washington metro area wanting to contribute to the shipment can donate even if they’re not able to drop off supplies at St. David’s.
Most of the supplies are coming from the wish list,Mesecher said. At first there were a lot of donations made and supplies purchased by the church,but more recently people have been donating through Amazon.
“The initial push is great,but we’d love to keep it moving forward,” Mesecher said. “It’s going to be an on-going project.”
Reach reporter Kara Mason at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire Stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us onTwitter.