When the Ebola crisis was at its peak last fall, Berea College students determined then to do something about it. Now local residents can, too, by participating in the “Stop Ebola” event on February 1, 2015.
Striving to live out the College’s commitment to learning, labor, and service, and inspired by the passionate plea of Gyude Moore, a Berea College alumnus from Liberia, the students began planning how they could help stem the crisis, even before it reached America’s shores.
Gyude Moore — recently appointed by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a cabinet-level minister to head the Public Works Ministry — sent an urgent letter to Berea College detailing the devastating effects of Ebola and the destruction it was causing in his country and the entire West African region. He described the situation as being “hell out here.” His letter was also a call to action; urging Bereans to send support in any way possible.
Berea students’ first action was to establish a fundraising link so concerned individuals could donate toward the relief efforts they were planning. Then, they began planning a fundraising event to address the need.
Nadine Umutoni, a senior with a double major in Peace and Social Justice, and Communication who served on the event planning committee said, “The values instilled in me of service towards others from a very young age and here at Berea College have made me give a supporting hand to those in need whenever I am able to, and right now, the children, women, elders and men of Liberia need our support.”
Several Berea College students, supported by faculty, staff, and community members, will host a fundraising event in order to help those directly affected by Ebola. The event is to take place on Sunday, February 1st, at Union Church from 12:00pm-2:00pm. Homemade soups and breads, donated by campus organizations and local businesses, will be served. Berea’s Afro-Latin Percussion Ensemble (along with other local musicians) will perform and an auction made possible by donations from Berea’s local artists, will raise additional funds.
The student organizers state the event will serve as a time to speak about the current state of the West African region and how our donations will support those who are working to contain and end this deadly disease. Admission to the event is $5.00 ($3.00 for students). All donations received at the event will be sent to Doctors Without Borders who are serving those affected by Ebola.
First reported in March 2014, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa quickly became the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976 according to BBC News. As of January 18, 2015, there had been 8,641 Ebola-related deaths in six countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the U.S. and Mali. While the past month has shown a decrease in the number of new cases, the battle to contain the disease continues.
George Marshall, a senior majoring in Peace and Social Justice Studies, said, “As the Ebola epidemic has decreased in visibility from the mainstream media, I think it is easy for us to forget that the West African region is still suffering as a result of this disease. I hope this event will serve as a time to recognize how our actions can make a difference by supporting those who are working to contain this deadly disease.”
Those unable to attend the event in person can provide support by making an online contribution at: https://www.crowdrise.com/helpstopthespreadofebola/fundraiser/ebolaberea1