Last year Ebola brought fear and death to several West African nations while we all sat helpless. Ebola killed over 11,100 people and infected more than 26,900 within a year. Without getting too much into the headlines that put fear into us, i know that it was especially difficult for those of us who had family in the regions affected.
Many of you know i’m from Liberia and last year my (younger) brother was planning to get married in October. I saved my vacation days for the wedding and planned to celebrate my big birthday in Liberia with my family. I’m sure you know where this story is going; my flight was cancelled and majority of the airlines restricted flights to Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak. The messaging of Ebola caused tremendous panic and isolation for people in those areas. However, I will hold my opinion for another post.
Anyway, May of 2015, I spoke to a dear friend who is involved in the public health sector and has been working in and out of Africa on Ebola and other bio threats. I expressed interest to get involved but did not know in what capacity. One month later, I received the letter below: (I’m showing part of letter that’s relevant to this post). I accepted the assignment and was able to take 18 days of vacation to participate in the training in Accra, Ghana after receiving the letter.
Dear Ms. Yeaney,
I hope this message finds you well.
On behalf of United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), I would like to gauge your availability to participate as a course facilitator for the Operation United Assistance (OUA) Transition Disaster Preparedness Project scheduled to begin on 9 July 2015 at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana.
The OUA Transition Disaster Preparedness Project aims to build upon the recent US Government-sponsored Ebola response effort in Liberia toward building long-term disaster preparedness capacities across the West African region. The project will be conducted to further develop national Preparedness and Response Plans and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as deliver awareness trainings across domains related to bio-threat preparedness and lessons learned from the recent Ebola response. Efforts will focus on 17 West African Partner Nations (PNs) to include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo in collaboration with several US Government stakeholders, the United Nations, West African regional organizations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU). The project will be mainly focused on a national-level, systems-based approach to preparedness.