There are many African Australian families living in Newcastle for whom the media reports of the growing Ebola crisis are painful indeed. We are feeling concerned, compassionate – even maybe anxious for our own safety. We possibly think that the best way to help might be to give a donation to the Red Cross – but how many of us have, up until now, actually done that?
Gladys, Nehemiah, Emeka and John have family in Africa where this crisis is playing out. They hear daily how their mother or sister or other family and friends must wear a mask and rubber gloves before they go to do simple food shopping. They hear of the necessity to wash everything on returning home in disinfectant, lest they have picked up the virus. They hear of the deaths of school friends who were working at the hospital and became infected with Ebola while caring for sick people. They hear of the deaths knowing they are safe here, but those they love are far from safe.
They know that in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and the Congo there will be thousands more people infected before this catastrophe runs its course. They and many of us ask –what will we do that will help?
In the West African countries, Red Cross is training local people to go from village to village, from door to door to distribute gloves, masks, chlorine water purifying tablets, waterproof gowns, rubber boots, plastic water buckets and even body bags. They are distributing staple foods like beans and rice. They are teaching as many people as they can how to avoid infection.
Tomorrow (Wednesday 3 September) at noon, Gladys, Nehemiah, Emeka and John and a number of other people with family in West Africa will gather at the front of the Mayfield Medical Connection in Hanbury Street, Mayfield to take delivery of donations from those wishing to help. The monies collected will be given to our local Red Cross representative, Paul Smith, who will see that the funds make their way to the Ebola Outbreak Appeal.
Red Cross will also take donations of protective clothing such as masks and gloves, donated by medical centres from around the Newcastle area. This will only comprise 5 kilograms of goods because to post the parcel from Newcastle to West Africa is very expensive. It is more efficient to send funds so Red Cross can purchase goods in bulk in Africa. The parcel, however, is a concrete symbol of our support of the people in their hour of need.
Donate to the Red Cross Ebola Appeal online at www.redcross.org.au or post a cheque or money order to Ebola Outbreak 2014 Appeal, Australian Red Cross GPO Box 2957 Melbourne 8060.