Rev. Fr. Elijah Bobby Washington is from Liberia but has been stranded in the United States for about three months because of the West Africa Ebola outbreak. He's now in Reno staying with a friend and former missionary, Betty Bishop. He asks for thoughts and prayers for the people in West Africa. To contact him, email Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are you in Reno?
Actually, I came to the U.S. for a conference in Michigan, and after the conference I couldn’t come back because of the Ebola Virus. … Betty used to work for us as a missionary, and when I told her what is happening—I was out of money and I couldn’t stay where I’d been staying—she asked me to come to Reno and then she could help and see what we could do to help the people back home.
Any idea when you can get back?
I don’t know. I have a friend who works for U.S. Airlines, and she’s trying to help me get a flight. I can get a flight on United to Brussels, but from Brussels into Liberia is a big problem. She’s trying to work it out, but I really don’t know what I’m going to do.
Who is waiting for you at home?
My family, and I have a church, a Catholic church. I’m the parish priest and the parishioners are waiting for me. They didn’t know I was going to stay this long, so it’s made it difficult for them.
What are you doing now that your stay has been extended?
I’m trying to talk to a lot of people. … I’m trying to create awareness for the situation back home because it’s a pretty bad state for the people in Liberia, but not only the people in Liberia. … There’s a lot of deaths. … That is a serious thing. There’s no vaccine for the Ebola Virus. … The prices of things have gone so high because there are no—nobody, nothing is going in, really, so it’s difficult for them. So I’m just trying to create awareness so that whoever wants to help the people back home can. It’s not just a Liberian thing; it’s not just a West African thing. It’s a global thing. Everybody needs to help because it’s going to spread.
Prior to you coming to the U.S., how was the situation?
It had just started. It was in Guinea because that’s where it started from. … It hadn’t gotten widespread yet. … The hospitals and the clinics can’t—they’re afraid they could get infected. They don’t have protective gear. They don’t have what it takes to contain the virus. So some of them won’t go to work. They stay home so they don’t get infected. There’s nowhere to go, so they just stay in their houses.
What is your family doing to stay healthy?
My little brother—I just talked to him this morning—what they do is they stay indoors. You don’t go to entertainment places. You don’t go to crowded places. That makes it pretty difficult for them because by interacting with people, by going to the farms, by going to the work places, they can really get some money to buy food, but now they can’t go out. It makes it more difficult for them. If you stay home, how are you going to survive? You have to go to work.
What was it like living in Liberia before the Ebola outbreak?
We suffered from civil war for about 14 years, so the country was kind of picking up. People were trying to re-establish their lives again, even though things were not very fine for them, but people were starting to pick up their lives. But with the Ebola Virus, it takes them back to where they were before. Liberia is a poor country. We try to get up from where we were, but now, things have gone back. … In Africa, people come together as a group to do the farming and plow the land and plant together and everything, but now everybody is afraid of everybody. They can’t do work. If they can’t plant things for themselves, how are they going to survive for the next year to come?