Ind. doctors, church raising money for countries plagued by Ebola

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Several groups in Indiana are working to send financial support to West Africa, even when manpower can’t be provided.

From religious organizations to medical workers, West Africa may be more than 5,000 miles away from Indianapolis, but the countries hit by the Ebola epidemic are very close to the heart.

“I’m sort of angry at this virus because we can control this but the infrastructure and the resources to do it just aren’t in place. I’m hopeful, but I’m also a realist,” Chad Priest said.

Priest is an assistant dean at the Indiana University School of Nursing and just returned from Liberia’s capital two weeks ago.

“When I left that day I literally talked to two people, one is dead and one is dying now. So that weighs heavily on your conscious, what would have happened if I stayed,” Priest said.

But his work continues, along with local doctor Josh Mugele. They are heading up the Dr. Sam Brisbane Fund.

“That money will be used to buy things like gloves, things they need right now,” Priest said.

Brisbane was the first Liberian doctor to die from the Ebola outbreak.

“He is the embodiment of the types of people who are real heroes of this disease and his death was selfless and sadly unnecessary,” Priest said.

But the outbreak is impacting those outside Liberia as well. The Indiana Conference of United Methodist Church has already sent $10,000 to Sierra Leone to show their support.

“Knowing that when you face a disaster you need funds right away,” Dan Gangler, with the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, said.

The United Methodist Church supports a hospital in Sierra Leone and more than a dozen elementary schools. The money raised will go toward supplies and education.

“To get the word out to how to interact with people so that they are not fearful of Ebola but will take care of it,” Gangler said.

Showing these Hoosiers are not hesitating to help.

“There are a lot of people who don’t look like us, they don’t live like us, we may not have a lot in common with them, but we can’t ignore plight because we’re all too interconnected,” Priest said.

Priest and Mugele cut their trip in Liberia last month short by about two days because of the outbreak.

As for the United Methodist Church’s trips to West Africa, those have all been canceled. They do have a mission trip planned for January, but it’s unclear if that will happen now.

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