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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.”

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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.”

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Name: Africare

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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. “

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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. “

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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.”

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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.”

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Name: MAP International

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

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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; “

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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

World Lion Day – 10th August

Today is World Lion Day, a day when we should reflect on this beautiful animal’s place in our world and more importantly, our impact on its population. The lion (Panthera leo), second largest of the big cats, is the king of the beasts and admired around the world by children and adults alike for its beauty and power.

Male African Lion (Panthera leo)

Male lions (Panthera leo) have a thick mane of hair around their neck to protect them in fighting. Photo Credits.

Lions had a wide range historically; found all over Africa and much of Europe and Asia. As recently as Roman times, Lions were roaming in the wild in Italy and Greece, but these lions have now disappeared. There is a subspecies of modern lion that still lives outside of Africa; the Asiatic lion (Pentera leo persica) still has a small population of around 400 living in the Gir Forest in Gujarat, India.

Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are a subspecies of lion found in Gujurat India. Lions were once found in many places in Europe and Asia. Photo Credits.

Today there may be as few as 20,000-30,000 lions left in the wild and their numbers are declining. There are many threats facing the world’s remaining lions from farmers killing them to protect their livestock to poachers hoping to sell lion teeth and bones for ‘traditional medicine’.

To celebrate World Lion Day, there are many things you can do if you want to help out lions.

One of the most important things you can do is talk to people and raise awareness; tell people about the plight of lions around the world and suggest that they can also help out.

You might want to donate time or money to a conservation organisation; check out this page on the World Lion Day site to discover a whole range of groups that are working to conserve lions and see if there is any way you can help them.

You can also make sure that you prevent contributing to abuse of lions by avoiding attractions like animal circuses, or zoos/sanctuaries with poor conditions.

Lion cubs (Panthera leo) playing

Lion cubs (Panthera leo) grow up in family groups and males leave to make their own prides when they reach adulthood. Photo Credits.

Hope is not lost and the future for lions could be bright. Ethical and sustainable tourism can bring money to help conserve lions in suitable reserves and conservation groups are working tirelessly on reducing human and environmental impact on lion populations. It is never too late to make a difference and hopefully we can work together to ensure the lion can keep its thrones as king of the beasts for many generations to come.

Much love,



A Giant in the Sky: The Largest Bird to Ever Fly

In 1983, in South Carolina, U.S.A., work was under way to expand Charleston International Airport by adding a new terminal. In order for construction to go ahead, a large earth moving operation was required, but upon digging into the rock, a wealth of ancient fossils were discovered. Albert Sanders was curator at the Charleston Museum at the time and led the excavation at the dig site in order to collect and study the prehistoric remains.

25-28 million years ago the world was a different place; the Earth was much warmer and there was less ice at the poles meaning that sea levels were significantly higher. The area where Charleston airport is now situated was once underwater, and the rock that was dug into for the excavation was once the seabed. The fossilised seabed held many interesting remains, including whales and fish, but one volunteer at the site, James Malcom, discovered something that stood out; some assorted bones, including a skull, of what appeared to be a large bird. Sanders, the dig leader, was a whale expert, not a bird expert, so the remains were archived in a drawer at the museum to be analysed later.

Decades later and the airport is busy and thriving, but the prehistoric bird bones lay untouched in a museum archive, that is until Daniel Ksepka, curator of science at the Bruce Museum in Greewich, Connecticut, was invited to analyse the finds. Ksepka is a palaeontologist and expert in ancient bird remains who ended up discovering something rather interesting.

Ksepka used computer simulations to try to piece together the size and shape of the bird and try to model its flight patterns. The bird was always known to be a member of the pelagornithid family (a group of huge sea birds that are characterised by the presence of tooth-like spikes in their beaks) but it was soon realised that this individual was a whole new species and not only was this a new species but it seemed to be the largest bird that ever took to the skies!

Artist's depiction of Pelagornis sandersi in flight

An artist’s depiction of Pelagornis sandersi in flight over an ancient ocean. By Liz Bradford.

The bird was named Pelagornis sandersi (named after Sanders, the original excavator); it was a huge animal, boasting a wingspan of up to 7m and it perhaps could have been wider when flight feathers are factored in. Like other birds in the pelagornithid family, it lived most of its time out at sea, catching soft-fleshed marine creatures like fish and invertebrates; we know this because of its ‘teeth’ which are unusual as far as bird beaks are concerned. It had short, stumpy legs meaning that it was awkward on land, but more streamlined when in flight. Ksepka’s computer modelling demonstrated that sandersi’s size and shape made it an extremely effective glider that would have required very few wing beats in order to travel huge distances, instead, it soared through the air riding air currents and thermal up-draughts. Sandersi was also an extremely light bird, given it’s size; based on its bone density, it’s calculated that an individual might have only weighed between 20kg to 40kg (compare that to a modern-day ostrich (Struthio camelus) which weighs in at 100kg), this would have assisted in keeping it aloft.

The largest bird capable of flight that currently exists is the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) which boasts a measly wingspan of 3.5m. Although sandersi and the albatross are very different birds in many ways, they share many similarities, most notably their lifestyle; spending almost their entire lives out at sea, soaring above the waves, swooping down to catch fish and other prey and rarely coming to land, except for mating and replacing flight feathers. The albatross is also notable for its struggle to get airborne, a struggle shared by its ancient cousin. Sandersi was so perfectly adapted to its aerial lifestyle that it would have been positively useless on the ground, struggling to move around and protect itself and struggling to take off again. It’s quite possible that sandersi would have been completely incapable of taking flight unless it ran downhill into a good wind, or even leapt from a cliff in favourable conditions.

A Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans)

The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) is the largest flying bird currently in existence, but larger birds existed in the past. Photo Credits.

Sandersi was the largest bird to ever fly, but other types of animal have also taken to the sky in the past. Bats and insects still live around us, but between 228-66 million years ago, there lived a group of animals called pterosaurs; large flying reptiles that soared in the skies over the dinosaur world. One of these animals, named Quetzalcoatlus, was the largest flying animal to ever live with a mighty wingspan of 15m and when it landed, it stood as tall as a giraffe! Pterosaurs ruled the skies for a very long time before birds evolved and eventually dethroned them, and it was a very long time still before sandersi arrived to take the title of largest flying bird.

Artist's depiction of Quetzalcoatlus

Quetzalcoatlus was a gigantic flying reptile that holds the record as the largest animal to ever take flight. Photo Credits.

Before the discovery of sandersi, the record holder was Argentavis magnificens (another seabird which lived around 6 million years ago, much later) but Ksepka reckons that there may be other specimens out there that will break the record. He believes that it’s possible that we may find birds with 10m wingspans, but any more than that is quite unlikely due the physics involved in flight.

Life on Earth has had 3.5 billion years to experiment with many different forms. The animal kingdom is richly varied and full of remarkable and fascinating creatures but some of the most amazing are no longer with us. Over 99% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct, among them are astonishing animals that are almost unimaginable. Who knows what wonderful and bizarre creatures are still waiting to be discovered deep in the ground!

Much love,


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