By Caelainn Hogan – Washington Post
‘Please call your people in the villages…even if they don’t believe government officials.’ Reverend J. Edwin Lloyd In Washington D.C. asks
As Liberia declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, members of the local Liberian community quietly filed into a church hall in Northwest Washington, anxious for news about the Ebola crisis back home and to figure out how to help.
“[Hurricane] Katrina did not define the U.S.,” said Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who addressed the group after taking part in the African leaders summit. “Let Ebola not define Liberia.”
Another member of the group of Liberian officials, foreign minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, urged the crowd of more than 100 to call relatives in Liberia and ask them to heed warnings about the disease.
“Please call your people in the villages, tell your people, even if they don’t believe government officials,” he said. “Ebola is real.”
The town hall meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church was one of many events occurring across the United States as West Africans mobilize to try to help their friends and relatives in their Ebola-stricken homelands. Since March, 932 people have died of Ebola disease in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.