Erie Organization sends aid to Liberia

Community of Caring, a local nonprofit, sent medical supplies to the victims of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

The organization is dedicated to meeting the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished people throughout the world, focusing specifically on issues of hunger, homelessness and illness.

For two weeks starting Sept. 8, the organization collected sanitation and medical supplies including gloves, bleaches, disinfectants and other items to prevent contact with infected materials, according to Dr. Grace Kennedy, Executive Director of Community of Caring. The shipment was sent on Sept. 17.

“We took them to Cleveland where they were packed into a container where they were shipped,” said Kennedy. “The 20-foot container has an estimated value of over $126,000.”

Some of the supplies were donated by an organization called MedWish in Cleveland. The shipment is due to arrive in Liberia on Oct. 7.

Community of Caring made the decision to send supplies to Liberia because of its connections to the country. The Rev. Charles Kennedy and Mother Mary Beth Kennedy, founders of Community of Caring, were missionaries there, and that is where Kennedy was born.

“We have a long history of involvement with Liberia, so when this came out, we felt we needed to do something to help,” Kennedy said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a total count of 2,710 cases and 1,459 total deaths in Liberia due to Ebola as of Sept. 14. Ebola is a deadly hemorrhagic fever that is contracted from animals and spread via human bodily fluids.

“I think people have no clue about the severity of the situation and severity of the need. Liberia’s heath care system was already deteriorating,” said Kennedy. “Hunger is becoming an issue, prices and everything have gone up. It’s a very difficult situation.”

The biggest challenge in Community of Caring’s relief efforts was the cost. Dr. Kennedy said the total cost is going to be about $10,000. So far about $3,000 has been donated.

No one from their organization has been to Liberia recently, but they do keep in contact with people who are there.

Right now no future shipments are planned, according to Kennedy.

“This one was all medical supplies. We may send another one in the future with food and clothing but right now we don’t have plans for that,” said Kennedy. She did, however, stress the importance of helping people abroad in these types of situations.

“The world is becoming a smaller place and it really does matter.”