As dire predictions about the escalating Ebola epidemic in West Africa continue, a flurry of well-wishes and expressions of gratitude from the ASF community have made their way to the Schweitzer Fellows for Life working to stem the spread of the deadly virus. As we have written about previously, Drs. William Fischer II (Lambaréné, 2003), Nahid Bhadelia (Boston, 2001-2002) , and Meredith Dixon (Pittsburgh, 2006-2007; Lambaréné, 2008) have all been deployed to the region.
Dr. Bhadelia, the director of infection control at Boston’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory and a hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, has been in West Africa since mid- August. She recently responded to the many messages of support in an email to ASF Executive Director Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, taking the opportunity to issue a plea for more help:
“Thank you so much for all the kind words. I can’t tell you how much they meant to me. This epidemic is growing every day and if my going only works in getting one more person to go then I will feel like I have helped. I know that WHO is still looking for volunteers from nurses and WHOs. I am wondering if you think sending a call to action to the Schweitzer community could garner volunteers? It’s what we need more than anything else.”
If you’re willing and able to join the fight, the International Medical Corps is an organization responding to the crisis and is currently looking for a range of medical personnel to serve in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Here is a sampling of the outpouring of gratitude for the life-saving work that Drs. Fischer, Bhadelia, and Dix are doing:
“I write to thank you for your service and leadership in combatting the Ebola epidemic,” wrote one member of the ASF community. “Your courage, compassion, and commitment are inspiring and worthy of the full meaning of reverence for life. Albert Schweitzer would feel honored to know you.”
“Dr. Schweitzer would be proud of your dedication and your selfless good work, and we of the Board and staff of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship are equally proud,” wrote another. “Stay healthy and keep making a difference.”
And this from a 2013-14 Schweitzer Fellow: “Thank you for truly living out Albert Schweitzer life’s mission. Thank you for answering the call to address the need. I am sure seeing firsthand the effects of this outbreak brings about a mixture of emotions. Thank you for moving past any fear that might exist to be those hands that help the people of Guinea. You are truly an inspiration to me as you work in West Africa to tackle Ebola that has that part of the continent frozen in fear.”
Good luck and thank you to all in the ASF community who respond to the call to serve in West Africa.