My cousin Garrett is in Liberia, helping people cope with the Ebola epidemic. Here he is being interviewed via Skype by a reporter at New York’s WPIX:
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By Miss Manners’ reckoning, Garett is my first cousin once removed; by my family’s traditions, he is my second cousin, and by the calling customs of my nieces and nephews, he’s my baby cousin, being the son of one of my first cousins and the grandson of my dad’s younger sister. I’m not entirely sure I ever met Garrett, unless it was at a barbecue his uncle held while I was in NY visiting my sister this past July. He and I are Facebook friends, but he doesn’t post much. I knew about this interview because his uncle and aunt posted the link to this interview on Facebook. We are all quite proud of him.
AmeriCares, so their website tells me “is a non-profit emergency response and global health organization. In times of epic disaster or daily struggle, we deliver medical and humanitarian aid to people in need worldwide.” Garett is Vice President of Emergency Response, hence his trip to Liberia. His organization has been providing supplies that medical workers need in order to provide the care that they can without risking their own lives or infecting other patients.
AmeriCares has scaled up its response by providing eight emergency shipments of essential medicines and personal protective wear to both Liberia and Sierra Leone to help treat Ebola patients and to provide protective gear for health workers facing great risks in trying to control the outbreak.
The shipments contained over 90,000 pairs of gloves, 88,000 face masks, and over 28,000 units of protective clothing including scrubs and disposable coveralls and gowns. Shipments of intravenous fluids to rehydrate Ebola patients have also been sent to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Now they are working on large shipments of bleach to be used in infection control. People find Ebola scary, and rightly so, but it isn’t an airborne virus. Catching it requires coming in contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person, all too easy to do if the proper protective wear and disinfectants are not available, but preventable if they are. Ebola is also not necessarily a death sentence. If patients get symptomatic care (such as rehydration) to keep them alive until their immune systems kick in, it is possible to survive Ebola. It’s not the same as getting over the common cold, but there is no reason to shrug and say, “Oh, well, what can we do?” either.
So what can you do? Donate, obviously, if you possibly can. You can donate to AmeriCare here, but if any readers know of other reputable organizations working on Ebola relief efforts, go ahead and post about them in the comments.
If you are the sort to pray, or send good thoughts, or use other blessing rituals to signify your solidarity with people going through bad times, yes, please do! Garrett is not involved in direct patient care and does not anticipate being in any danger, but there are the many medical workers, the patients themselves, their family members, and anyone with the potential to be infected to whom you can direct your efforts as well.
And go ahead and remember Garrett while you are at it, just in case. Because even if neither of us could pick the other one out of a police lineup, he’s family. Apparently, he’s one of the people who sees the rest of the world as family, too.