You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Ebola Outbreak Hits Home in Central New York

Ebola Outbreak Hits Home in Central New York
Each day, more and more relatives – Manje’s siblings, uncles, cousins – are becoming sick and dying from the Ebola virus.

Watch the video to hear Manje’s story.

Video courtesy of American Red Cross communications volunteer Nikhil Tejwani.

More and more people are dying every day, says Manje Donzo, of Syracuse. Manje is a West African native, and the insurmountable pain is visible in her eyes as she describes her experience with Ebola.

Manje and her family moved from Liberia to Syracuse more than five years ago and they have remained in close contact with relatives in Africa. They used to hear good news when Manje’s phone rang. But since the spring, she has dreaded those phone calls because each one seems to bring more unimaginable news. Each day, more and more relatives – Manje’s siblings, uncles, cousins – are becoming sick and dying from the Ebola virus. Although she is safe here in New York, it’s not enough to ease her mind. She was brave enough to sit down with us at the Red Cross to share her story and raise awareness about the severity of this outbreak (please watch the video to hear Manje’s story).

The impact of this disease is not limited to Africa; it affects all of us, even those living in Central New York. Ebola is impacting thousands of lives – from the loved ones we’ve lost to the survivors, family members, medical professionals, neighbors and millions of worried people across the globe.

As of early November, nearly 5,000 people have been infected with Ebola and, without receiving the proper medical attention, the survival rate is low. While there is no cure yet, doctors can take an effective symptom-management approach. By keeping the fever low and monitoring and alleviating other symptoms, these patients’ lives can be saved. Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse has been designated as one of eight hospitals in the state to treat Ebola patients. Unfortunately for West Africans, the proper technology, equipment, and knowledge are not so readily available for them.

The World Health Organization has labeled this outbreak as a public health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control has issued a Level 3 travel alert warning against all nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Syracuse resident Kesselly Kamara is originally from the Liberian village of Sarkonedu in the same district with Barkedu, which is considered the center of the Ebola outbreak in Lofa County. "We're beyond catastrophic at this point," Kesselly said. National Public Radio has reported that Barkedu has been hit the hardest of any village in the country. Of the 8,000 people who live there, more than 1,000 people have died from this disease – including many of Kesselly’s loved ones – since it started wreaking havoc in July. He says that even though he would like to be there to help, his relatives and friends in Liberia would forbid him from coming. (Watch the video to hear more about Kesselly’s story).

For Manje and Kesselly, who are powerless to save their family, it’s crucial that swift and effective action is taken. Ebola knows no boundaries and does not discriminate, but with enough resources and determination, this outbreak can be stopped.

Many organizations around the world are stepping up to help as UNICEF, Google, and Facebook are all donating to the cause. The American Red Cross, both in the United States and abroad, is one of the leaders in this movement. Since the outbreak started in March, 170 Red Cross delegates have been deployed to the region and more than 5,000 volunteers have mobilized in the surrounding countries to provide information about the virus. They’re offering education, awareness, support, dead body management, and financial and technical support. As Manje and Kesselly emphasize, we must do everything we can to save these people’s lives, prevent others from falling ill, and salvage families that are being torn apart.

To learn more about the Ebola outbreak and the American Red Cross response to it, click here. If you’d like to donate to this cause, call 1-800-REDCROSS or click here contribute to the Red Cross’ relief efforts in West Africa.