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Ebola Virus: What YOU can do to help

At this point I can safely assume that everyone has heard of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) that is out of control in Western African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and with a few cases of infected people in several other African, European countries and the United States of America.

As I read news from around the world I can’t stop feeling that there must be something I could be doing. I know I don’t have the qualifications or the experience to go fight this on the front line or even in the hospitals and between you and me, I’m glad I can’t go because I would be terrified.

Fortunately for all of us there are people brave enough to face this horrible threat and there is something that we, the “ordinary” people, can do to help.

Here I compiled a list of all the non-governmental organisations currently in the affected Western African countries that are helping the governments and locals deal with this epidemic.

 

Ebola Virus

Here’s what YOU can do:

  • Donate to the organisation(s) of your choice (see list below).
  • Send them an e-mail thanking them for their effort.
  • See if any of your local organisations are helping with the cause and volunteer.
  • Create petitions and/or contact your local representative to request their help to send funds, material or food to countries struggling.
  • Raise awareness by sharing this list.

 

 

List of non-governmental organisations currently helping Ebola afflicted countries:

 

Name: ActionAid

What they do: “Your donation can help to provide medical supplies, protective gear and sanitation materials and food aid, to those most in need.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Adventist Development and Relief Agency

What they do: “ADRA is delivering life-saving supplies to hospitals in West Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola. Our latest shipment to Cooper Adventist Hospital in Liberia included nearly $100,000 worth of necessities, including crucial isolation tents. A shipment of similar resources has also just gone to Waterloo Adventist Hospital in Sierra Leone.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 
Name: Africare

What they do: “Africare is providing emergency medical supplies and educating communities on how they can keep themselves safe from the virus.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: AmeriCares

What they do: “AmeriCares is sending emergency medical aid to Sierra Leone and Liberia, including personal protective equipment for health workers at great risk in the battle to contain the deadly disease.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Brother’s Brother Foundation

What they do: “BBF has sent a large number of face masks, protective gowns and protective gloves as well as disinfectant and general medical supplies to support medical facilities in Sierra Leone that are coping with the Ebola outbreak.

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Concern

What they do: “Concern Worldwide is responding in Liberia and Sierra Leone with the following: (…) Support of health structures including health staff trainings on ebola symptoms and prevention. Provision of personal protective equipment to health facilities.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 
Name: Center for Disease Control Foundation

What they do: “More than 100 CDC staff have been deployed in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone assisting with various vital response efforts such as surveillance, contact tracing, database management, and health education.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Develop Africa

What they do: “We are working to help provide the needed protective equipment / resources to health personnel so that they can keep themselves safe and preventing further spread of the disease. Funds will also enable sharing of information / sensitization (through radio and other media) so that people can take preventive action to protect themselves from infection. We are also providing health kits and emergency food aid.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Direct Relief

What they do: “Direct Relief has sent twelve emergency shipments valued at more than $6.8 million dollars to more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The shipment contents includes rehydration solutions, antibiotics and personal protective gear for use by medical staff treating Ebola.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Doctors of the World

What they do: “In Liberia, Doctors of the World are training local health workers to identify and treat suspected cases, as well as providing medications and essential protective equipment. In Sierra Leone, Doctors of the World are supporting the efforts of local communities and healthcare authorities to prevent Ebola’s transmission in the Koinadugu district, in the north of the country.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Emergency

What they do: “An Italian charity, Emergency has opened in September a Treatment Centre for Ebola patients in Lakka, a few kilometres from the capital of Sierra Leone. “

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 
Name: Episcopal Relief & Development

What they do: “The Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting awareness-raising efforts and providing food supplies in addition to personal protection equipment and disinfectants to under-resourced hospitals and clinics in the affected areas of Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Giving Children Hope

What they do: “GCH has sent two shipments of supplies already and will continue to do so with your help. Items that are most need that GCHope is sending include, gloves, soap, sanitation supplies, cleaning supplies and other relief items.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Global Communities

What they do: “Your gift helps us teach communities on the history, signs and symptoms, transmission mode, and devastating impact of the Ebola outbreak and train and support burial teams in all 15 counties in Liberia.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Global Health Ministries

What they do: “In close communication with the Ministry of Health in Liberia, the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL), and our partner hospitals in Liberia, the GHM is responding to the Ebola virus outbreak by sending urgently needed PPEs (personal protection equipment – gloves, gowns, masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, etc.) via suitcases, air freight, and sea containers.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: GlobalGiving

What they do: “Funds will be used for medical supplies to care for those already infected, protective equipment to keep health workers safe, and educational campaigns to inform the public about Ebola and how it spreads.”

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Name: Heart to Heart International

What they do: “Heart to Heart International will open and operate an Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia. The facility is already under construction and is expected to open in November. We are recruiting doctors and medical personnel to help us, as well recruiting Liberian health workers to operate the 70-bed facility. We will also continue to ship supplies like protective suits and gloves to help the the hands of health workers on the ground in the Ebola hot zone. “

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: International Medical Corps

What they do: “IMC is operating the Ebola Treatment Unit in Bong, Liberia which is currently comprised of 70 beds with more than 200 specially-trained staff, and a 50-bed unit in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, with sites for a laboratory and an expansion area for a training center and staff accommodation.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: International Rescue Committee

What they do: “The International Rescue Commitee is saving lives by training and protecting medical workers; preventing people from catching Ebola with “alert” systems, contact tracing and community awareness; and providing medical care to people with treatable diseases who would otherwise die because they are afraid to visit health centers.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: MAP International

What they do: “In March, MAP International began providing protective gear to healthcare workers on the ground in West Africa.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Management Sciences for Health

What they do: “MSH is mobilizing its expertise and resources at the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia to help the Ministry of Health develop community care centers for Ebola separate from the health facilities; “

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders

What they do: “MSF’s West Africa Ebola response started in March 2014 and now counts activities in three countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. MSF currently employs 276 international and around 2,977 locally hired staff in the region. The organisation operates six Ebola case management centers (CMCs), providing nearly 600 beds in isolation. Since the beginning of the outbreak, MSF has admitted more than 4,500 patients, among whom more than 2,700 were confirmed as having Ebola. Around 1,000 have survived. More than 807 tonnes of supplies have been shipped to the affected countries since March.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Medical Teams International

What they do: “MTI is training in the basics of Ebola and how to protect themselves from infection and sending shipments of Personal Protective Equipment kits (PPEs), gloves and body bags to Liberia.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: MedShare

What they do: “Through the generous donations of our individual, hospital, and corporate partners, we are continuing to add life-saving supplies and protective clothing items – disposable gowns, gloves, operating room caps, shoe covers, and masks - to our special air shipments and 40-foot containers headed to West Africa.

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Operation USA

What they do: “Operation USA is taking action to help combat the further spread of Ebola by providing material aid support to those on the front lines battling the outbreak. If you or someone you know works for a corporation who can provide any of these materials new, in bulk, contact us.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Outreach

What they do: “Life-saving meals were packed to be sent to Ebola patients in Liberia. 300,000 meals were shipped from Outreach’s warehouse on September 18. The second shipment of 300,000 meals will leave on October 9. Two additional container shipments of 300,000 meals will be sent prior to Christmas.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Oxfam America

What they do: “Oxfam’s response to the epidemic is focused on prevention by providing water infrastructure to health centers, training health workers and supplying protective gear like masks, overalls, gloves, and boots, as well as equipment like sprayers and mops.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Partners in Health

What they do: “Partners In Health is leading a coalition to combat this outbreak, working alongside two outstanding grassroots organizations—Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone. These long time PIH partners are already working to train health workers, identify sick patients, and deliver quality care.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: PCI

What they do: “PCI is responding to the crisis by equipping communities and health professionals with the knowledge, infrastructure, and supplies necessary to prevent the spread of Ebola. Specifically, PCI is actively providing critical help by expanding community education campaigns; training health care providers; constructing infrastructure for the isolation of suspected cases; and providing personal protective equipment and sanitation necessities to minimize the spread of the virus.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Project HOPE

What they do: “Project HOPE delivers essential medicines and supplies, health expertise and medical training to respond to disaster, prevent disease, promote wellness and save lives around the globe.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Samaritan’s Purse

What they do: “Samaritan’s Purse is aggressively responding in Liberia, where we have had a country office for more than a decade, by establishing and managing Community Care Centers in areas hit hard by the disease. Other Samaritan’s Purse public health initiatives in the country include caregiver training and kit distribution, as well as a massive public education campaign focused on infection prevention and control.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: Stop Hunger Now

What they do: “Stop Hunger Now is shipping a container of meals and and donated medical personal protection equipment to Liberia as part of relief operations in response to the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

 

Name: University of California San Francisco Platform

What they do: “Gifts will not only help us treat and prevent ebola but will also help us continue to train local villagers to serve as public health workers who can stop the spread of the virus in their own community.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: UNICEF

What they do: “In Liberia, UNICEF is helping the government train 400 additional mental health and social workers. A total of 50,000 kits will be shipped for distribution to the five counties with the highest rates of Ebola. Each kit contains protective gowns, gloves and masks, as well as soap, chlorine and a sprayer, along with instructions on the use and safe disposal of materials.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: World Food Program USA

What they do: “WFP is providing life-saving food assistance to quarantined communities that have been cut off from markets and serving as the logistics leader for the UN by utilizing its delivery expertise to transport medical supplies and basic infrastructure, including tents, warehouses and prefabricated offices.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Name: World Hope International

What they do: “WHI has 76 staff and 9 trucks. We are using this resource to distribute airlifted medical supplies to hospitals and clinics. We are also providing borehole water wells and sanitation facilities for Ebola treatment centers using our experienced Water and Sanitation team.”

Website | Donate | Contact

 

 

Disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with any of this organisations. All the information you see here can be found on their websites.
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Hiding in plain sight 2

In the first post of this series, we asked you to spot the hidden animals in a range of photographs. Some of you were more successful than others, but now we’re back with even more photos and this time some of the animals are even harder to spot!

Many animals have evolved to perfectly blend into their environment to avoid being eaten by predators, or even to be more efficient predators themselves. Good luck finding the animals in the following pictures! Once again, we’re not going to help!

 

arctichare

lesserkudu

mossyleaftailedgecko

longfingeredscorpionfish

brittlestar

tawnyfrogmouthowl

 

Did you see them all?

Much love,

-Nick

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Why do people think that ostriches bury their heads in the sand?

You may have found yourself in an argument with someone who is refusing to see sense and listen to you. You may have found yourself saying that they have buried their head in the sand.

It is a common metaphor that is a part of our cultural vocabulary; we use when people are being ignorant of facts, refusing to acknowledge advice or in denial about their situation. It has been commonly used in this way for centuries, since Roman times. But what is the origin of the phrase? It comes from the ancient observations of the behaviour of animals, namely, ostriches. So, why do ostriches bury their heads in the sand? Well the answer is that they don’t.

It has long been believed that ostriches will bury their heads in the sand to avoid predators; that they are so stupid as to believe that by concealing their heads they become invisible to predators. However, the truth is that this is a myth; there has never been any observation of an ostrich burying its head and yet for centuries the idea has stuck with us. There are, however, many behaviours which ostriches perform that might have given rise to this curious myth.

Ostrich Head and Neck (Struthio camelus)

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) are strange and fascinating birds; is it really true that they bury their heads in sand? If not, why do so many people think so? Photo Credits.

The common ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the world’s largest bird (currently alive). It is found across large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa and, historically, North Africa and Arabia. The first recorded occurrence of a belief that they bury their heads comes from Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny The Elder (AD 23 – AD 79) a Roman scholar who invented the idea of the encyclopedia. Pliny spent most of his time observing and recording natural phenomena, including the behaviour or wild animals. He was a great author and philosopher who wrote volumes of information about the natural world, however, not all of it turned out to be entirely accurate. So from where did he get his ideas about ostriches? There are several potential explanations.

Gaius Plinius Secundus (aka Pliny the Elder)

Gaius Plinius Secundus (aka Pliny the Elder) was a Roman scholar who wrote about ostriches hiding their heads to evade detection. He was a great naturalist and even invented encyclopedias, but he was wrong on this one issue. Photo Credits.

Ostriches are extremely fast runners. They have long powerful legs that can accelerate them to up to 70 kilometres per hour; clearing 4 or 5 meters in a single bound. Quite rightly, they use their tremendous speed as their first resort when faced with a threat, however, sometimes, they might be trapped or injured or otherwise unable to escape. When they are not able to run, ostriches will lie down as flat as possible, stretching their necks out flat against the ground. Their necks and heads, incidentally, are often the colour of their habitat’s terrain (sandy brown/grey) and so at a casual glance, only their bodies would be visible, perhaps leading to the assumption that they have buried the rest.

Ostriches are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of things, however, they mostly feed on low level vegetable matter such as roots and fallen seeds, as well as invertebrates such as crickets. They also practice geophagia; picking up stones and pebbles from the ground and swallowing them, keeping them in their gizzards to help grind up and digest food. As a result of this diet, ostriches have their heads down at ground level for large amounts of time. Perhaps this has been misinterpreted and has helped propagate the idea of burying their heads.

Male Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Feeding

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) find most of their food on the ground and so have their heads down often. This may have given rise to the idea that they even bury their heads. Photo Credits.

It has also been suggested that ostriches will lower their heads to ground level in order to scan the horizon for threats. They may simply also lower their heads to ground level to be less obvious to prowling predators when they feel nervous. But the idea that they believe that they can conceal themselves completely by hiding their head is unfounded. Pliny the Elder suggested that they also stuck their heads into bushes to achieve the same effect. This notion is born from the idea that ostriches are ‘stupid‘ animals because they have such tiny brains: Ostriches have brains smaller than their own eyeballs (although they do have the largest eyes of any land animal)! In reality, animal cognition is not as simple as saying that a small brain equals a stupid animal. However, their small heads may have contributed to the myth; when their heads are down at ground level, they are so small that they can be difficult to see, this optical illusion may have led people to believe the animals’ heads were in fact buried.

Ostrich Chick (Struthio camelus)

Adult ostriches (Struthio camelus) grow to be the largest birds on the planet, but the start life as very cute chicks! Photo Credits.

Ultimately we have seen that an ancient misconception has turned into a common metaphor for human behaviour and it has been hard to separate the popular myth from the scientific truth ever since. There are many reasons that might explain why Pliny the Elder first wrote about the idea, but ultimately, we may never know where it came from originally.

Much love,

-Nick

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