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Upper Valley Man Seeking Donations to Assist Ebola Sufferers

Hanover — A Hanover man is accepting donations to provide the nonprofit Friends of Liberia with resources to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed hundreds, shuttered schools and forced volunteers to flee the country.

Peter Murdza is the treasurer for the nonprofit, which is registered in Washington, D.C., and all donations go right to his Etna mailbox.

As news of the outbreak became more dire, officials for the nonprofit held an emergency phone conference on Wednesday to discuss how they could help. The officers decided to donate $10,000 to Doctors Without Borders and $10,000 to Global Health Ministries, which will help pay for protective gear for health workers and the cost of air shipments.

In addition, Murdza said any donations he receives in the mail or online during the next several months will go toward providing relief to individuals suffering from the Ebola outbreak. The nonprofit already had its semi-annual appeal for funds in June to fund its regular programs, such as a teacher training project.

But Murdza said the Ebola outbreak seemed like enough of a crisis to ask for additional money.

“I talked to one of the members today and they said it’s not just this health epidemic that is a problem, it will have a significant economic effect,” Murdza said. “People are not trading with Liberia, the airports are shutting down. There are trickle-down effects.”

Murdza visited Liberia for three months in 1975 when he was working on his dissertation about French and Liberian relations while earning his doctorate in European and African history.

He later became a property casualty actuary, but has tried to stay connected to Liberia, whether it was through Friends of Liberia or readings about the country.

Liberia is still trying to recover from a recent civil war and there is a lack of infrastructure in the country. On top of that, the country is dealing with a health crisis, said Stephanie Vickers, president of Friends of Liberia. Vickers spent three years in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1970s and went back in 2001 as part of a teach er training project through Friends of Liberia, and she returned two more times in 2013.

“These people are dying,” said Vickers, who now lives in Portland, Ore. “And the helpers are dying and there is no cure for it. We all felt very strongly that we needed to step up and do something about a place that is very near and dear to us, as are the people.”

Health officials are calling the Ebola outbreak the largest since the disease first appeared in Africa nearly 40 years ago. More than 700 people have died this year in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola is a contagious virus spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for it.

Anyone interested in making a donation to Friends of Liberia can send it to P.O. Box 164, Etna, N.H., 03750.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223. The Associated Press contributed to this report.