WUOMFM

Families in Michigan watch, worry from afar as Ebola crisis worsens in Liberia, West Africa

Oct 1, 2014

Helping fight Ebola in Monrovia
Credit User: USAID / Flickr

The headlines and images of Africa's Ebola epidemic are chilling.

The death toll has passed 3,000 and continues to rise.

And it's raising alarms in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a patient in Texas, who flew from Liberia to visit family in the U.S., has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Meanwhile, affected countries in the middle of the Ebola epidemic are struggling to find doctors and the resources needed to care for the sick.

Here in Michigan, the Liberian and West African communities are feeling this crisis in a very personal way.

Martha Toe is the chairperson of the Liberian Association of Michigan. She says she tries to comfort her family in Liberia on the phone. 

"About 80% of my family is still in Liberia. When we call our families, they are very devastated. Some of them sound like they've given up on life ... When I speak to my family, I tell them God is going to be in control, and this is something that will pass," says Toe.

Harolyn Baker is an epidemiologist based in Detroit. Baker says this is the worst health crisis Liberia has ever faced, and the poor health infrastructure has led the outbreak to be much more horrendous. 

"There are 51 physicians in the entire country. In Monrovia alone, there are 1.4 million people living in such a small area ... it's just a set up for catastrophe," says Baker.

* Listen to our conversation with Harolyn Baker and Martha Toe above.

To donate to the Liberian Association of Michigan, you can call Martha Toe at 313-412-0229 or Harolyn Baker at 313-424-9326, visit the website, or send checks to The Liberian Association of Michigan, 13300 Puritan Street, Detroit MI 48227

-- Michelle Haun, Stateside