Ebola is really terrible and Africa is really big and, unfortunately, I need to say this again: Africa is not a country.
Today I’m writing at Babble about Ebola and living with my family on the continent where Ebola is. It is not in our country of residence. Ebola is really serious and I don’t want to skirt around that. There are also huge and horrifying future possibilities if the disease spreads. Many nations, Djibouti included, are likely not prepared for a full-fledged outbreak. Health workers and politicians and average citizens need to take this seriously, to react appropriately, and to make wise decisions.
At the same time, being asked if we are leaving Djibouti because of Ebola (to return to a country with eight confirmed cases total) sort of sits wrong with me. It seems based on the assumption that when/if things were hard, we should leave. But this isn’t a vacation easily abandoned, this is our life. Our real, real life. Plus, we don’t make choices based on fear, or we try not to. We might make them based on a reasonable assessment of risk, but at this point there is no need to do so.
Or when I read a story that in Texas a Nigerian man is denied entrance into a college because he is from Nigeria and they aren’t allowing students from countries with Ebola*…that bothers me. Or some of the incredibly ignorant way people are talking about Africa – a Fox news reporter talked about how the world needs to worry because Africans go to witch doctors. Laura Ingraham apparently thinks that the reason Obama hasn’t instituted a flight ban (which most professionals think will be ineffective anyway) is because of his familial connections to the continent. One former GOP official suggested we just kill everyone who has Ebola, stop the spread that way. Do I even need to comment on the deeply offensive, ignorant, racist, and just plain stupidity of these types of comments?
On the other end of the spectrum, I recently received a message from a friend in Minnesota, before this essay at Babble even came out, and she demonstrated exactly what I encourage people to do. She had done due diligence and found out how far we live from Ebola-affected countries and acknowledged that we are far away. And then she asked if we were doing okay, if we needed anything, specifically prayer support. Her message was compassionate, sincere, not fear-mongering, and a real encouragement to me.
May God have mercy, may Ebola be stopped in its tracks, and may we all live with wisdom, compassion, courage, and faith when things get hard.
*in the days since I sent this to be published, two countries have been declared Ebola free. Two African countries. Nigeria and Senegal. Maybe the US could learn a thing or two from them.
Click here to read more of my thoughts about Ebola: No, My Family’s Not Leaving Africa Because of Ebola
*image via Flickr