The high-profile resignation of a teacher at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School in the U.S has had the effect of bringing increased awareness of a little-known charity that provides medical aid to Ebola-free Kenya.
Susan Sherman, who is also a registered nurse, returned recently from a medical mission trip with Kenya Relief to find that her school was asking her to take a paid “precautionary leave” of 21 days upon her return from her trip after “strong parent concerns” about Ebola. It also asked Sherman to provide a doctor’s note stating she was in good health.
That’s despite the fact that there are no reported cases of Ebola in Kenya, which is thousands of miles from Ebola-stricken areas in Africa.
Although Sherman and her husband, a retired orthopaedic surgeon, offered to give an educational meeting about Ebola and about their medical mission trip, they say they were held at arms’ length.
Sherman ended up resigning over the reaction. In a statement, she said that her resignation “had nothing to do with Kenya or Ebola, but it had everything to do with the way I was treated upon my return.”
At the least, the incident has given Sherman a chance to plug the faith-based organization Kenya Relief that she travelled to Africa with, as well as Louisville-based organization Supplies Over Seas , which works to get surplus medical supplies to medically impoverished communities including Kenya, as well as Ebola-stricken areas.
On Wednesday evening, Supplies Over Seas hosted a presentation by Kenya Relief founder Steve James at its Louisville warehouse. James talked about the medical mission trips the group organizes, and shared anecdotes from some of the experiences of the dozens of doctors and nurses in the Louisville region and elsewhere who have participated in the trips, performing medical procedures and visiting the school and orphanage.
Sherman said she and her husband are already planning to return to Kenya next July with Kenya Relief.
James said Wednesday he hopes that others will also share Sherman’s enthusiasm for his organization and what it does despite fears about Ebola.
“What’s happened with Ebola has hurt any ministry that does international work,” James said, adding that an initial fear reaction has affected work in areas that are often far from Ebola outbreak areas. But he said this incident has also provided “a call for people who do care and do understand to do more.”
Erica Padgett, a paediatrician who is about to go on her second trip with Kenyan Relief, said the experience of helping people in Kenya got her “hooked.”
“You can’t come back not feeling good about what you did,” Padgett said.
Padgett said the experience Sherman had was unfortunate, but said it’s been good to bring awareness to the group and to provide an opportunity for awareness.
“It’s a chance to gently educate” not only about what and where Ebola is, but also about other things that people should be paying attention to in Africa, she said.
Source : courier-journal.com