Missionary Jack Hopkins is shown with volunteer well diggers on a thousand year-old Bassa trail
AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — Methodist missionary Jack Hopkins will help send emergency medical supplies to Liberia on Friday to combat the Ebola epidemic there.
Ebola Fever is an infectious, generally fatal disease marked by fever and internal bleeding, caused by the Zaire Ebola virus. The disease has reached epidemic levels in Liberia and other West African nations over the last five months.
The shipment includes all kinds of items, everything from medicines to hospital equipment.
Hopkins normally works part of the year drilling fresh water wells for remote communities in the Liberian bush, but a quarantine will keep him from returning.
“The situation is deteriorating rapidly in Liberia,” he said. “Usually we send supplies there via ship from Baltimore, but that could take six weeks. We decided to send the material immediately by air. It is an emergency.”
Hopkins said he and the Rev. Bruce Hitchcock of Geneva United Methodist Church, and others, will be taking 4,200 pounds of medical supplies to Windemere Methodist Church in Euclid on Sept. 5 to be readied for the flight to Liberia. The equipment will be flown non-stop from Cleveland. They are getting help from Doctors Without Borders.
Hopkins does missionary work building fresh water wells in Bassa Land, Liberia, through Methodist Churches of eastern Ohio, the Methodist Church of Liberia and through donations from the Rotary Club.
“The virus is on the move,” he said. “I just learned Senegal reported the presence of the Zaire strain of Ebola. It’s far enough from Liberia to know it is spreading rapidly.“
So far, more than 1,600 Liberians have lost their lives due to the epidemic.