Peace Corps helps CDC team in Liberia

The Washington Post reports that the Peace Corps’ local network in Liberia helped the CDC  begin its ebola fighting efforts. Here is  the link to the article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-ebola-fighters-head-to-africa-but-will-the-military-and-civilian-effort-be-enough/2014/10/25/1ceba6a8-5b99-11e4-8264-deed989ae9a2_story.html

Thanks to the National  Peace Corps Association for posting the information about the Washington Post article on their Facebook page. From that article, read the following:

Greg Thorne, the deputy team leader for the CDC in Liberia, wrote to Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet this past week, thanking the agency for smoothing the path for American public health workers in the county of Gbarpolu.

“We, the CDC team members, entered Gbarpolu as strangers,” Thorne wrote. “Carried by community goodwill . . . and connected by our Peace Corps colleague’s extensive local network, we were able to rapidly integrate with the county leadership and earn the trust necessary for them to openly discuss challenges and take our suggestions to heart.”

The Peace Corps staffers have relationships with local leaders, police officers, religious officials and fellow teachers. They know the local English dialects and have been interpreting for CDC workers and helping them understand local customs.

The Liberian civil war took away the country’s political infrastructure, said Samuel Sampson, a Liberian and the Peace Corps’s program manager for secondary education. He said credibility and political clout lie primarily with local people in each county.

“You need to know these people,” Sampson said. “You need to know the gathering spots.”

George Karneh, another Liberian working with the Peace Corps, has also guided CDC teams into rural areas. “For me, I look at Ebola as a war,” Karneh said. “I look at it as an important mission, a lifesaving one. It’s going to be written in history that, once upon a time, we had this awful thing . . . and people were able to stand and fight it along with the CDC.”

Peace Corps did evacuate all Volunteers from Liberia last July because of the ebola threat. This article speaks to the value of the Host Country employees who mann the in-country Peace Corps administration and the importance of the work that the Volunteers did over the years. Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet has also posted a Passport commentary on the help that these Host Country Peace Corps staff are offering as well as how the evacuated Volunteers and other Volunteers are helping to fight Ebola from the home front. Here is the link: http://passport.peacecorps.gov/2014/10/29/what-peace-corps-can-do-to-fight-ebola/#more-1846

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