SACRAMENTO (News10) - The chaos and fear of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa is hitting home for members of the Friends in Jesus International Church of the Nazarene in Sacramento.
Just last week, member Florence Brown learned her 27-year-old son Bobby Weh had died from the Ebola virus.
"He was a very good child. He was ready to help anybody, but today he is gone," Brown said as she broke down in tears at the church on Wednesday.
There was no way for her even to attend a funeral.
"He was buried in a mass grave -- there was no death certificate. Nothing. He was turned over to the government," Brown said.
The virus had already swept through her small village, but she thought it was safe in the capitol, Monrovia, where her son worked as a handyman.
"I'm afraid of my mother, my sisters. They are all there," Brown said. "Even babies, pregnant women are dying and families are running away from their families who have it. And there's no cure."
Church member Kwasi Lawrence recently returned from Liberia, where he went to his sister's funeral after she died of a heart attack. The CalPERS computer software expert saw first-hand the breakdown of the country's infrastructure.
"There were bodies lying in the street that the government had not picked up," Lawrence said.
Before leaving, a doctor friend told him what precautions to take.
"Keep your hands in your pocket, travel with alcohol wipes," he recalls. His supervisor at work gave him a gift before he left.
"Brought me sanitizer, Clorox wipes, nose mask. 'Kwasi,' she said, 'I want you back here,'" Lawrence recalled.
He said everyone at the church, made up almost entirely of former residents of Liberia, are wondering who the person is being held in quarantine at Kaiser South Medical Center in Sacramento for possible exposure to the Ebola virus.
"We don't know who the person is, whether Liberian, we don't know yet," Lawrence said.
Friends in Jesus Church has decided to take direct action, beginning a drive to raise money and supplies for those in Liberia.
"Gloves, surgical supplies. Even body bags are needed," Pastor Tim Wulah, Jr. said. "People are hungry, people are dying, the prices of food and everything have gone up."
On Saturday, Aug. 23, the church will hold a drive from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. People can drop off food, medical supplies, clothes or anything that might help. Church members will even drive to pick up donated items.
The church address is 8115 Elder Creek Road, in Sacramento. Those wishing to donate can also call Pastor Tim Wulah at (916) 501-3618.
Wulah said he wants his church to be an example for others. Brown agrees.
"I'm proud of this church," Brown said. "Our people are dying, are suffering."
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