Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 700 in the West Africa region. As the crisis grows, New Yorkers with ties one of the countries effected—Sierra Leone—gather to raise awareness. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
Scared and confused—that's how Sierra Leoneans describe those in their homeland currently fighting the worst Ebola outbreak in the history of Africa.
"I'm terrified," says Ahmed D. Kargbo, president of the Union of Sierra Leonean Organizations.
"They scared, all of them," says attendee Joseph Bangura.
More than 230 have died in the country. Complicating matters, all the misinformation.
"I speak to one of my friends day before yesterday. He told me the disease doesn't exist," Bangura says.
"The other thing I heard was that, people fear for themselves that once the government find out they sick, they put them in a particular place, they inject them to kill them," says Edward Stevens, president of Sierra Big Apple Club.
The Union of Sierra Leonean Organizations met on Randall's Island to shed light on the virus.
"It keeps me awake, because just thinking of the magnitude of the disease," Kargbo says.
Transmission of Ebola requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
It is not airborne.
"One of the top misconceptions is that this is not real. It is real," says Dr. Mafudia A. Suaray.
It's also preventable. Many in Sierra Leone are keeping sick family members at home instead of taking them to isolation centers. To them, Suaray says, "The disease is killing people. Doctors are not killing people in the hospital."
To try to contain the outbreak, officials in Sierra Leone are sending teams door-to-door in search of patients.
Many here were critical of the government's response so far, saying it's too little, too late.
"I blame the government because of when it started people were saying, the disease was coming to Freetown, but they never closed the border," says attendee Edward Campbell.
"They ought to have done what Senegalese did. They came to the border. They closed their borders," says journalist Umaru Turay.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization says the outbreak is moving faster than efforts to control the disease.
"Why Africa? It's like when I think about it, it make me feel bad everytime. I say, God save my people," says Campbell.
If you'd like to make a donation to those fighting the disease on the ground, you can visit doctorswithoutborders.org.