Local Volunteer Returns to CA after Fighting Ebola in Africa

CBS 13 in Sacramento reports that one American volunteer in Sierra Leone was crushed that he had to leave his mission there because of the Ebola virus outbreak. Dawson Jope, a Peace Corps volunteer, had planned to live in Sierra Leone for two years, but that plan was scuttled by the Ebola virus. 

He said he wasn’t frightened by being in the midst of the outbreak, only disappointed that the promise he had made to help was broken.

Jope said, “My family was heartbroken; my host mother cried into my arms…It’s tough to sit there and tell them, look them face-to-face and tell them this is what I want to do and this is what we can do, and then to be pulled away from that indefinitely.”

Jope was chosen to teach English to schoolchildren in a town of 6,000 people, where power and basic supplies are not standard. He recalled: “You have to get your own water, cook your own food all the time, make sure everything is to a sanitary standard.”

He said of his leaving: “Even though it was an extremely low potential, you could still say hypothetically the potential existed for somebody, one of us, to potentially be exposed.”

The Ebola virus outbreak began in Guinea in February and reached Sierra Leone in July. The Peace Corps decided to return its workers for 45 days after roughly 1,000 people died from the virus.

Jope said he can’t wait to return to Sierra Leone, but won’t find out until his 45-day hiatus is over whether he can. 

He said sadly, “None of us want to be where we are right now. We all want to be over there in Sierra Leone. That’s where our heads and our hearts are.”


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