Pittsburgh Liberians / by Justin Merriman

Top: Urias Tombekai, 27, of Etna arrived in Pittsburgh on Sept. 8 with many tales to tell about Ebola ravaging his native Liberia.  "People are not working.  They are afraid to go to the hospital, to the pharmacy to buy the medicine," he says.  Bottom (from left to right): 1) Yolanda Covington-Ward, 35, of Churchill an assistant professor of African Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, is married to Lincoln Ward, who came to the United States from Liberia in 1996. “They are always doubting exactly what is true. If everyone were 100 percent honest, there would still be mistrust,” Covington-Ward says about the effects of the Liberia's civil war on the mentality of Liberian people during the Ebola outbreak. 2) Lincoln Ward, 39, of Churchill left Liberia in 1996 during the civil war and runs a Liberian radio station online. “We’d have people call the radio station and say, ‘there’s no Ebola in Liberia.’ It’s not something to be taken for granted,” he says. Ward is running a medical supply drive for the Liberian Community Organization of Greater Pittsburgh. 3) Comfort Moore, 60, of Rhode Island, left Liberia in 1981 but says she would give anything to go back. Moore lost two brothers to Ebola recently. “He died Tuesday night; he buried the next day. Nobody go closer to the body,” she said. Moore, who is visiting with her son, Lincoln Ward of Churchill, talked about the death of her brothers and the changes in funerals that Ebola has brought about. Ceremonies that involve touching the body have been canceled. The dead are taken away as soon as possible because they are contagious, even in death.
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