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Dr. Tania Basta gives a lecture about Ebola in Room 240 Baker University Center at 7pm on November 1, 2014. The event was presented by The Ebola Campaign and Ohio Global Studies Union. 

Raising money for the Ebola campaign comes with global organizations’ efforts to inform students.

Raising money for the Ebola campaign comes with global organizations’ efforts to inform students about the disease on campus.

For some Ohio University students, Ebola is more personal than the threat of it spreading throughout the United States. The epidemic for some hits closer to home — literally.

Take Ibrahim Sesay for example. He’s a graduate student from Sierra Leone, one of five African nations affected with Ebola.

“Everything with my mom, my dad, is good so far,” Sesay said. “I talk with them on the weekends. They are fine, but everyone is really, really scared about it. I’m also so scared about the situation. Nobody is safe, nobody is secure.”

Sesay is a member of African Student Union, which in collaboration with Global Leadership, English Language Improvement Program and Global Studies, hopes to raise $10,000 for Ebola containment efforts in West Africa.

The money will benefit Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel-Peace Prize winning, non-profit organization that sends doctors to the region to help those infected. 

OU’s organizations have raised $1,101 from 37 backers in a month — through the online crowd funding site GoFundMe.

“(Doctors Without Borders) use the money to help with Ebola isolation camps, and to improve their effectiveness,” said Toluwani Adekunle, president of ASU and a second-year graduate student in international studies. “They also set up temporary hospitals in affected regions.”

OU President Roderick McDavis acknowledged the campaign’s efforts in his university-wide email addressing Ebola concerns that he sent last month.

“...A newly-formed Ebola Campaign is mobilizing to raise awareness about Ebola and to support those who have put their lives on the line to help stop its spread,” McDavis said in the emailed statement.

Those working with the campaign also want to give students more factual information about Ebola.

“...We don’t want to pass across the wrong message,” Adekunle said. “Once people hear, ‘Ebola,’ they’re freaking out, everyone is scared. We are trying to be careful about the facts and the information we say about the disease. We want people aware of our efforts on campus and the campaign.”

Organizations involved in the campaign have held information sessions and panel discussions for months.

Tania Basta, associate professor in the department of social and public health, spoke on Saturday about some facets of Ebola, including how it spreads.

“It’s more complicated than people think. These are countries that do not have the means to stop it on their own,” Basta said. “The United States is stepping in from the ethical standpoint, and because we have the resources to help as a country. We have to stop it there or it’s going to continue to spread in different places.”

There was only one student enrolled at OU from Sierra Leone at the beginning of Fall Semester 2013, the most recent data available. But other countries that have been heavily affected also have some students studying at OU. 

There were 15 students from Nigeria last year and five from Senegal, including Maurice Ndour, a senior forward on the men’s basketball team and Senegal native, who has family there. 

“Obviously it’s something that concerns everybody — not only African people, but everybody around the world,” said Ndour, who represented his country on the Senegal National Team over the summer. “You just gotta pray for them and try to find ways to help them.”

The organizations are asking students to donate and participate in the opportunity to increase awareness on the topic.

“We are very much aware of all the misinformation going around. For example, not every part of those countries are affected with Ebola,” Adekunle said. “As a result, we are trying to make sure we give specific information about the parts of the countries that are actually affected.”

Choosing reliable sources can be a challenge, and time consuming, Adekunle said. 

“There are large amounts of inaccurate information circulating the media, and it’s perpetuating a lot of unnecessary fear and a sense of panic,” said Andrew Stadeker, general secretary of ASU.

Adekunle said there has not been any tension toward the African students on campus because of this, and they want to continue to informing students about Ebola so it remains that way.

“I certainly don’t want to anybody to panic, because we do have students from the affected countries, but there is always that kind of possibility,” Basta said.

Sesay reasons it is better to wait a while before going home.

“There are procedures for people who travel from Africa,” Sesay said. “There will come a time when I do go home, but not any time soon.”



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