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Prayers and Poems: How Churches Help the Battle Against Ebola

Ebola Nina Pham UMC Animation

Nina Pham appreciates the prayers from her church. United Methodist Communications spreads awareness and information on Ebola with an emotional animation.

Since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak, religious missionaries from around the world have flown to many areas severely afflicted by the Ebola virus. Here are other creative ways churches have shown their support and commitment to combating the epidemic. From Nina Pham’s church providing the nurse with prayers and support to missionary Dr. Brantley donating his blood to United Methodist Communications creating awareness animations to combat the spread of the deadly disease, the religious front against the deadly disease has taken an impressive stand.

Nina Pham and Her Battle Against Ebola

Dr. Brantley, the first Ebola survivor in the United States, donated blood to Pham to help her fight the virus. He contracted while providing care to West African patients during missionary work. After surviving, he donated two times to those plagued with Ebola before also helping Pham; unfortunately, he was not a match for the first victim diagnosed in America, Duncan, who later died. The family of Pham is extremely thankful for his help during the challenging time of uncertainty.

Luckily, she is able to keep contact with family through phone calls and Skype during her dreary isolation. Additionally, Pham’s church, led by Jim Khoi, has continually been praying and hoping for a quick recovery. Parishioners have met in small groups to offer their prayers. The nurse, who is an active member in her Roman Catholic parish, has felt this support and offered her appreciation in return. Many people have commented about her wonderfully friendly and giving personality and their lack of surprise when she decided on the nursing career path in an effort to help and provide for others.

Unfortunately, Pham was repaid with a deadly virus, but she remains in fair condition and appreciates the continued support by everyone. With the blood transfusion from Dr. Brantley and the prayers of many others, she has been quickly recovering and states that she is “doing well.” While some showed initial concern when Pham’s condition changed from “good” to “fair,” Dr. Anthony Faucidirector of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reassured the public that she is “quite stable.” There were concerns that her boyfriend had contracted the deadly virus, but because he was recently admitted in to a hospital. However, the latest updates indicate that he was only brought in for monitoring and has not yet showed any symptoms.

United Methodist Church Combats Ebola with Communications and Animations

United Methodist Communications, a church agency, in collaboration with the Iheed organization decided to play their role in the fight against Ebola by funding a public-service-announcement video to the tune of $15,000. They settled on Firdaus Kharas, an award-winning animator, behavioral change expert and founder of Chocolate Moose Media, to head the project. In an attempt to stand out from what most media houses have been churning out on Ebola, the team agreed that they would focus on dispelling all the myths and superstitions being spread about the disease instead of repeating the same message on how much the epidemic is worsening.

Brent Quinn, Kharas’ creative collaborator on this project, came up with the idea for the animation through inspiration from a dream. The duo quickly composed a script, and within a few weeks the first sketches of the animation were ready. The animation is titled “Ebola: A Poem for the Living.” It is based around a young teenager who has Ebola and is lying in a hospital bed in Liberia. The child goes through various intense emotions, thinking about all the people he loves the most before he dies. The boy spends his last dying moments warning his family about the dangers of Ebola and how they can prevent ending up in the same fate as him. The child manages to passionately convey his message through a very powerful poem throughout the animation.

Ebola: A Poem for the Living (English) from United Methodist Communications on Vimeo.

The animation is aimed at the West African audience. Kharas admits that he initially had a hard time finding the perfect voice for the animation. Luckily, through Skype, along with a few fortunate events, he was able to find not just one perfect voice, but voices for several languages and accents so as to reach as many people as possible. The animation is available in South African English, Sierra Leone English, Guinea French, Nigerian Pidgin, Ivory Coast French, English and Krio. The animation in its various languages can also be downloaded at the United Methodist Communications website. The group behind the project hopes that the animation will reach out to the affected groups and give them the most powerful weapon against this pandemic – information.

United Methodist Communications is also attempting a more direct communications project to increase awareness and knowledge of Ebola in afflicted nations. They have developed a text messaging service which sends daily information including prevention tips and spiritual motivation.


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