Local church aids with Ebola outbreak

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2014 file photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz military airbase, near Madrid, Spain. Comparisons between Ebola and AIDS have surfaced in mid-2014 as the Ebola outbreak escalated. But Ebola is not expected to ever be in the same league as AIDS in terms of infections and deaths, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (AP Photo/Spanish Defense Ministry, File)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local church is stepping up to help contain the Ebola outbreak.

St. John’s Lutheran Church of Lake Township collected donations during their services on Sunday in order to send medical protective gear to people in Western Africa. At last weeks service, some of the church teens dressed in mock hazardous material suits and handed out hand sanitizer  to raise awareness for the cause.

The church developed the idea after seeing a lack of aid efforts within the city. The church is also no stranger to health care missionary work in Africa.  A few years ago, they sent a missionary team to build a clinic in Tanzania and also sent medical equipment to various hospitals in the country.

“The medical needs of the people there is something that is very dear to our hearts, so with this Ebola outbreak, it was something we wanted to respond to,” Pastor Ralph Easterhaus of St. John’s said.

The church is asking for the community’s help because sending the supplies by air freight is expensive. They said in the past when the church has sent medical supplies to Africa it has taken almost six months to arrive, so air freight is the only way to get help to the countries in a timely manner.

On Sunday, the church invited a guest speaker originally from Liberia to talk about the conditions in his country.  Joe Boway is a Liberian missionary and teacher. He said his country is only about the size of Tennessee, but nearly 4,000 people have already died from the disease. He said help and proper medical gear is desperately needed.

“I’m very concerned because these family members are 3 or 400 miles away from the city, and they don’t have the help that people in the city are getting, so it makes it difficult [even] just for hand sanitizer, they don’t even have,” said Joe Boway, a Liberian Missionary.

Boway said he feels blessed the U.S. military is stepping in to help build clinics. He said he knew of people that traveled the long distance to get to a clinic only to die on the doorsteps because there were no beds left. He said now with the U.S. military’s help, his family will only have to travel around 50 miles for help if needed.

The church has partnered with Direct Relief International where one hundred percent of the donations will go directly to purchasing, shipping, and distributing the medical materials. If you’re interested in donating to the “Fort Wayne Ebola Response,” click here.

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