An Ebola virus outbreak spreading through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has prompted Christian Aid Ministries to significantly alter its presence in Liberia, where the death toll is rising most quickly.
It is blamed for more than 2,800 deaths in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
The risk of infection is minimal, but as a precaution, the majority of CAM staff in Liberia are returning to the U.S. until the virus subsides.
CAM is a relief and development organization supported by conservative Anabaptist groups.
CAM Liberia country supervisor James Yoder said the Beachy Amish congregation of Faith Mennonite Mission in Lott, Texas, has one church plant in Monrovia and another in a suburb known as Baptist Seminary, with a combined membership of about 125. The Lamp and Light School has about 200 church and community children enrolled.
The CAM presence includes two families with children, two families without children and five single people. No one has been directly affected by Ebola, but by government mandate the school is closed.
Four American staff members, along with some national workers, will continue operations. They plan to stay away from areas where the virus is the worst, while still offering help.
“We have no idea when we can get the rest back over,” Yoder said. “We trust God will allow the situation to improve and our operations return to normal someday.”
Because the virus spreads so quickly, towns with numerous cases of Ebola have been quarantined. About 20,000 people are isolated across Liberia.
Because these people cannot go to work or leave town to buy food, hunger is becoming a problem.
“The number of deaths and suspected Ebola cases is still rising slowly,” said Kendra Good, CAM’s secretary in Liberia. “Because of the fear among healthcare workers, many hospitals and clinics have closed. To us, that is a greater danger than the Ebola itself. There really is nowhere for us to go if we would have an emergency.”
To provide extra protection from the virus, CAM sent an air shipment of exam gloves, masks and protective gowns for Liberian clinics.
At least nine more pallets of emergency supplies are being shipped by sea container, in addition to CAM’s regular shipments of medical supplies like drugs and antibiotics.