IU-based efforts during Liberia’s Ebola outbreak recognized

Friends of Liberia, an organization with deep connections to Indiana University, will be recognized Friday at the Peace Corps Connect Conference in Washington, D.C., for work that included activities carried out by the Liberian Collections Project at IU Bloomington.

Liberian President and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be the featured speaker at the conference.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Friends of Liberia will receive the National Peace Corps Association’s 2016 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service in recognition of its support of Liberia during the 2014-15 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Friends of Guinea and Friends of Sierra Leone will also receive the award.

Key to the organization’s work was the compilation and distribution by the Liberian Collections Project of Ebola e-Dispatches, a weekly news digest focused on Ebola. The newsletter was sent to 3,000 subscribers, including Liberian diaspora organizations, public health authorities and diplomatic personnel, and was a widely shared source of Ebola news.

Madea Neyor, an IU student whose family is from Liberia, was in charge of compiling and distributing the newsletter as a Liberian Collections Project intern. Verlon Stone, who directs the Liberian Collections Project, chaired a Friends of Liberia task force that raised money and awarded small grants, primarily to rural organizations in Liberia that developed education and outreach projects to counter Ebola.

The newsletter was distributed until May 2015, the month the World Health Organization declared Liberia to be Ebola-free.

The Ebola outbreak killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa, including nearly 5,000 in Liberia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Subsequent small outbreaks were held in check by improved countermeasures, including public awareness and contact tracing.

Friends of Liberia is a nonprofit organization that seeks to positively affect Liberia and Liberians through education and humanitarian efforts and through advocacy. Indiana University has longstanding ties to Liberia through research and other programs. Sirleaf, the Liberian president, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from IU in 2008.

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