GSR Today - It seemed at times as if 2014 was the Year of Ebola. It wasn’t, of course – it was also the year of the Synod on the Family, in which the divisions over the future of the Catholic church seemed to be laid bare, the year of the apostolic visitation, in which that question seemed to be answered, and myriad other topics – but Ebola stood out.
GSR Today - A digest of sisters' hard work in some of the toughest conflicts of the day. This week, Ebola's legacy is expected to last at least another nine months; sisters, who were at the forefront of this issue, continue working against trafficking; and the Dominicans in Iraq report witness of the collapse of Christianity there.
Twelve weeks ago, Catholic deacon and doctor Timothy Flanigan left Rhode Island carrying 10 hockey bags full of medical supplies. His destination? The West African country of Liberia, one of several countries struggling to halt and recover from the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the region.
The number of Ebola cases has leveled or dropped in Guinea and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization, but have increased dramatically in Sierra Leone. Catholic Relief Services is working on educating citizens there to change this trend. Holy Rosary sisters, who operate a counseling and peace center in Bo for vulnerable girls, reported last month that 70 percent of people in the country believed that Ebola had something political about it.
Sr. Barbara Brillant, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, is writing occasional updates on her work in Liberia for the Huffington Post. She has a unique perspective on the situation – she has been in Liberia for 37 years. In “All Hell Has Broken Loose in Liberia,” she writes about the resilience of the Liberian people, who have survived a 14-year civil war. But Ebola threatens to undo all that has been rebuilt: “During the war, you could at least hear the bullets, and you knew when to duck. Ebola is different. It's a silent killer that can spread without people even knowing.”
Three Stats and a Map - Ebola is about more than just healthcare. As Melanie Lidman, Global Sisters Report’s Africa and Middle East correspondent, reported earlier this month, when an epidemic meets an already fragile social infrastructures, the reverberations are felt on multiple levels. One perhaps surprising example of this is the effect Ebola has had on the world’s chocolate industry.
GSR Today - We share the story of Sr. Ann Kelly and two other Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary who are using their education network in Liberia to educate people about how Ebola spreads. Where they are, the number of cases is currently dropping.
Responding to Ebola from afar - There are many front lines in a war, and none are more important than another. That’s how Mary Rizzo, the development coordinator for the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in Reading, Penn., found herself battling the Ebola crisis in Liberia, even though she was nearly 5,000 miles away. Global Sisters Report shares the story of her fundraising that has sent more than $150,000 toward medical care in Africa and is asking you for stories about how others are stepping up to this outbreak.
GSR Today - The thing about Ebola that strikes a nerve – the thing about any disease, really – is that it peels back so many layers of tension and injustice. Disease brings into sharp focus just who, exactly, are the haves and the have-nots in this world.
In the chaos of a developing disaster in an impoverished country, the women religious and Catholic organizations were at the forefront of organizing a response in Liberia. “We live here, we’re from here, I’ve been here for 36 years,” said Sr. Barbara Brillant of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. “I think that’s why people look to churches. Churches are here. You can have the best international non-governmental organization in the world, but you know they’re going to leave. We’ve used the foundation of the church to get out and mobilize and treat early. That’s the blessing we have.”
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