RENO, NV - The Rev. Fr. Elijah Bobby Washington came to the United States for a religious conference several weeks ago. Now he can't get back to Liberia.
"I am stuck in the United States because there are no flights to Liberia now," Washington said. "I want to go home and help my people but I can't."
It's uncertain when he'll be able to return. In the meantime, he's spreading awareness about the growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
"I'm just going to see what I can do to talk to people and help the people back home," Washington said. "They're going through a lot of pain and suffering."
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola epidemic is accelerating. Total cases have risen to 3,069 and 1,552 people have died in four West African countries. The disease was identified in March but more than 40 percent of the cases have been identified in the last three weeks.
"Conditions are pretty bad, a lot of hospitals can't take any more patients and in a lot of areas there's no food, no water," Washington said. "There's been flooding in a place called West Point, one of the most devastated places in Liberia. It's been quarantined, there's no food or water and now most of the homes have flooded so a lot of people just stay outside and sleep in the open air."
Washington is working with the Reno Diocese to gather donations and prayers for those in need.
"The people there need protective gear, they need sanitizer, food, clothing whatever people can give is going to have an enormous impact on their lives," Washington said. "Even if you can't send money just pray that this crisis will be over."
He says he's looking forward to going back and helping people rebuild their lives.
"It's a rebuilding process that's going to be a really difficult thing," Washington said. "People will need psychological and emotional help and it's up to us to help them."
For more information on donating you can contact Betty Bishop at (775) 316-2255 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.