Updated 061014I live in Australia.
I have clean water on tap. Reliable electricity to burn. Internet access. A green garden. A lawn. A car. A very old cat who gets medical attention when he hiccups. A washing machine. A clothes drier. My kids have computer access. I have at least a dozen doctors within a 5min drive.
I'm a virologist who has been through all levels of schooling available, then University, then went on to do a PhD. I'm privileged. I'm lucky.
I want to help West Africa get its Ebola virus outbreak under control. I want to help support the healthcare givers and workers (HCWs) that are far braver than I am. I want hem to live to fight another day in the mud, heat, fear and pressure. And to leave when the job is done and return to their lives as the heroes they are.
I don't know much of what is being done to help though.
I don't know whether my own government is providing supplies in my name. I'd like them to be doing more than paying for others to fight this epidemic. I'd like philanthropists and industry and people who take my money to stop, and give some of it to help out. I'd particularly like those funds to be used right now to purchase, deliver, distribute and secure a steady stream of personal protective equipment (PPE) to all those well-trained HCW individuals and organizations battling to contain an acute, untreatable, easily spread, often fatal viral disease in countries with some of the poorest healthcare...In. The. World. I want them to have gloves, gowns, masks and goggles. I don't want them to have to re-use PPE and be infected in the process. I don't want them to be in fear of stopping a terrified potential patient from running away because they don't have the PPE to feel safe in just holding that person's arm and saying, "stay, we are here to help, if you leave we can't do that and you are more likely to die".
I don't feel guilty that I want this done for this disease now and not that disease all the other times.
But what can I do?
I donate some of my money. I do this every year anyway but I'm donating some more now because there are some worthwhile organizations that I trust to help West Africa, now. I don't send myself into debt. But I give a chunk now. I gave a chunk last week. I'll give another chunk soon. Some of this will be in my name, some in my wife's and some in my kid's name. Some might be a present for someone else. If we all did that, we could help. But we shouldn't just give it to organizations or individuals who have no plan or skills to use it. Or to those who will spend it on salaries and overheads.
So I give my donations to these organizations now:
- Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
They are meticulous, fastidious and well trained so they don't needlessly risk themselves. They are on the front lines everywhere. They have been all over this outbreak from early one. They warned us.
- Direct Relief
They can (and have) mobilize the PPE I want delivered. They have contacts with others in industry. They are a nexus for getting this done.
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.They are one the ground helping keep locals informed about Ebola virus
- United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
Always finding way to help children. There is a growing orphaned population in West Africa.
- United Nations Foundation Ebola Response Fund
The UN created this fund as way to allow individuals, corporations and civil society organizations to directly support UN entities in their efforts to respond to the Ebola virus disease outbreak.
Some organizations I have not donated to yet, but like the look of...
Among other things, they are helping to outfit health care workers with PPE in West Africa
Among other things, they are helping educate and provide medical supplies to the countries under Ebola virus assault
Spreading awareness about Ebola through village visits, music, explanation, drama...and some pretty cool dancing!
- EMERGENCY PROJECT: Medical supplies for Liberia via FundAnything
Joseph Flores is trying to fill a pre-organized shipping container with PPE
Has a link to a range of agencies seeking funds to help stop the Ebola virus disease outbreaks
- Australia Red Cross: Ebola Outbreak 2014 Appeal
Providing education, care and aid with burial
- From Caitlin River's blog
- From Kelly Hills' blog (h/t for heads up on Direct Relief)
- ONE's blog list of humanitarian organizations
I am also making others aware of these organizations so they can add their chunks in - if and as they see fit. You can do that too.
If you have a favourite company, try contacting them. If you have a favourite movie, hit up the actors, producers, directors. Try anything. Spend an hour tomorrow looking up some people and sending them an email or a Tweet to ask them to help provide the fuel needed by the people who know how to get this done.
Be part of helping out.