Yes, Ebola's Impact Remains Even Though The News Reports Have Disappeared
On Saturday January 27h at 1:00 p.m. Westminster will again host a Zumba Party fundraiser in support of kids orphaned by the Ebola disease in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. We suggest a donation of $15. or more but all are welcome. Ebola headlines are history but Ebola's child survivors still need help. Read on....
It has been a few months more than three years since Americans could not turn on their televisions without hearing reports of the Ebola epidemic sweeping across West Africa. We all saw images of bodies in the streets of African cities and dying patients attended by hospital workers dressed in what seemed to be space suits more suitable for exploring distant planets. And after a Houston, Texas, hospital reported the first Ebola death in their facility we were warned the dreaded disease was knocking on America's door.
During those scary months two Westminster Presbyterian Church members organized a Zumba fundraiser at the downtown Albany church and raised both funds and awareness about the impact Ebola had on the Liberian community which Westminster had already been serving with sanitation and education projects. Westminster's Felicia Kollie-Gambles, originally from Liberia and Fatmata Hilton, who grew up in neighboring Sierra Leone stepped forward to pull together the first Zumba event and have done so every January since because the need to support kids orphaned by Ebola continues to be significant. This is especially the case at Hope Mission in Bernard Farm, Liberia where Pastor Boniface Diggs and his wife, Mother Garmai Diggs, took in a total of eleven children orphaned by Ebola and, to a great extent, abandoned by relatives because of the stigma. It is also a need at the Freetown, Sierra Leone's orphanage where Ebola orphans swelled the population. Westminster committed to provide donations to funds several major food purchases each year for the entire orphanage.
At Hope Mission we currently provide monthly support for food, education, healthcare and other basics for all eleven youngsters who live there. We also pay a monthly stipend to provide two matrons who oversee the care of the children. These are expenses added to our previous commitment to fund nearly 50 scholarships per year at the school with a current student population of over 300 kids, kindergarten through high school. Several congregation and community members have pledged to support individual orphans but we still need to do significant work in order to honor our obligation to support these children until they graduate from Hope Mission School.
The Zumba Party starts at 1:00 on January 27th at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Enter at 85 Chestnut St., Albany. Wear comfy clothes and bring your dancing shoes and your friends and........your generous hearts! Come anytime until 3:30 pm.
To make a donation please send your check (Memo: “Ebola Relief”) payable to Westminster Presbyterian Church and mailed to the church at 85 Chestnut St, Albany,NY 12210, or you can go online to www.wpcalbany.org/give. You can also pay at the door. Thank you.
John Kucij authored the successful grant application for funding from Presbyterian Women and is overseeing the implementation of grant activities and management of grant funds. John is a Schenectady resident who volunteers at Westminster on Liberian Projects. He has 45 years of experience with Liberia and has chaired numerous US-based Liberian activities and organizations.