Parishioners with African ties send supplies hoping to stave off Ebola

| September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
A parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center receives the Eucharist from Redemptorist Father Steven Nyl. St. Alphonsus has a large African population, some of whom have lost family members and friends to the deadly Ebola virus. Jim Bovin/For The Catholic Spirit

A parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center receives the Eucharist from Redemptorist Father Steven Nyl. St. Alphonsus has a large African population, some of whom have lost family members and friends to the deadly Ebola virus. Jim Bovin/For The Catholic Spirit

Jannie Seibure’s former neighbor in Liberia brought her Ebola-stricken brother into her home to care for him. The consequences were devastating.

“The whole family died,” Seibure said.

A parishioner at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, Seibure told how she’ll go on Facebook with her friends in her homeland and see that “someone we saw every day has died . . . people are dying every day.”

The deadly spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa inspired Seibure, an accountant with U.S. Bank, to organize a drive at her parish to collect materials that can prevent more people from being infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, as of Sept. 14, there have been more than 5,000 confirmed cases and 2,630 deaths from the disease.

Through the efforts of the parish’s Pan African Network, boxes at the doors of St. Alphonsus are filling with bottles of hand sanitizer, boxes of surgical gloves, containers of disinfecting wipes, hand soap, towels and bedding.

St. Alphonsus parishioner. Tenneh  Johnson donates items to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. St. Alphonsus has a large African population, many of whom have lost family members and friends to the deadly Ebola virus. Parishioners are be gathering supplies to send to Liberia, such as plastic gloves, hand sanitizers, face masks, towels, bedding, plastic sheets, disposable bags and other items unavailable to many in the Liberian population because of the civil war and Ebola outbreak. Jim Bovin/For The Catholic Spirit

St. Alphonsus parishioner. Tenneh Johnson donates items to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. St. Alphonsus has a large African population, many of whom have lost family members and friends to the deadly Ebola virus. Parishioners are be gathering supplies to send to Liberia, such as plastic gloves, hand sanitizers, face masks, towels, bedding, plastic sheets, disposable bags and other items unavailable to many in the Liberian population because of the civil war and Ebola outbreak. Jim Bovin/For The Catholic Spirit

All the items collected will be donated to Vision for the Hopeless International, a registered Minnesota nonprofit founded by another St. Alphonsus parishioner, Tenneh Johnson.

Johnson, a nurse at Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis, has deep ties to the native country she calls “Mama Liberia.”

“Lots of family,” she said, some who have already died from Ebola.

The organization she started established an orphanage in Paynesville, a large suburb of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. When health concerns became apparent, it opened a clinic as well.

As of the end of July, the clinic was closed.

“Our lab tech died,” Johnson said. “One of [the] nurses died. Two other nurses left because they were afraid they would become infected.”

Plans are to re-open Oct. 1.

Johnson describes Ebola as “an enemy you cannot see. You’re just waiting for death, not sure how to prevent it.”

She said, “Being a Christian and a believer and a Catholic makes it more significant to be involved in fighting it.”

Seibure echoed the posters on easels throughout the hallways at St. Alphonsus when she said her main goal is to keep people alive.

“We’re hoping to get the materials we collect to Africa as soon as possible, so health care workers will be safe,” she said.

The women all expressed the hope that the world community will unite in helping the West African nations educate their people about how to prevent the spread of the disease.

“If people don’t act now it will be a disaster,” Seibure said. “My neighbor has had five family members die already.”

Maya Ignabode said her faith has her involved in the effort to collect the disease-preventing material.

Vice president of the parish Pan African Network, Ignabode pointed to Jesus’ words that there is no greater love than to give your life for another.

“Somebody’s dying, somebody’s life is depending on what I give,” Ignabode said. “If I can save one life, I want to do it.”

The native African women said they feel especially responsible to help those in their homelands.

Because they’ve been given the opportunity for a better life in the United States, they believe it is their duty to try to extend that better life to others.

Ignabode, a native of the Central African Republic who works for Target Corporation, said the way she looks at the situation, “God sent us here for a reason.

“Nothing that has happened in my life is by accident. God is giving us the voice, the courage to do something,” she said.

“People there are praying — God is using us over here as an answer to their prayers.”

Online donations are being accepted at http://www.visionforthehopelessintl.org.

 

Read more: Education is key to stopping the spread of Ebola

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