You may have heard of Will Pooley. He is a nurse who is (at the time of writing and as far as I am aware) the only British person to have contracted Ebola. And, thankfully, he has made a full recovery. He caught the disease while nursing sick people with Ebola in Sierra Leone, and now he has recovered, he’s gone back there to continue nursing the sick. What an amazingly brave and selfless thing to do!
Ebola is a fairly recently recognised disease. It was first spotted and so named in 1976 in the Sudan. Sub Saharan African countries have experienced sporadic outbreaks of the disease since this time but the current outbreak is by far the largest and deadliest yet. Because it is a relatively new disease no one can be quite sure whether Will Pooley can catch it again – and he knows this. There was an interview with him on TV where he said he will probably be alright but it is not certain. He feels so passionately about helping the sufferers that he considers it a risk worth taking. As I mentioned before, he is one very brave man.
Surprisingly he is not alone: During this most recent outbreak of Ebola over 570 health workers have become infected; Doctors, Nurses, Carers, Back–up Staff; no one is immune. And 374 of these 570 people have lost their lives to the virus. Their work really is a labour of selfless love.
There are now over 15,000 sufferers of Ebola but this is just the known and classified cases. Estimates vary widely as to what the real figure might actually be. There is, at present, no known cure (Care of the sick is basic nursing and giving them plenty of fluids) and while vaccines are in the pipeline it will be quite a while before anything approaching widespread vaccination is an option.
It has been well reported that the East African countries suffering with Ebola are not getting much international help. The UK, the US, France and a couple of other EU countries are helping but many countries are not. Many different Christian groups are doing what they can (The MU is involved) but still more help is needed.
I don’t know whether Will Pooley is a man of faith or not but he certainly reminds me that selfless caring of the sick is a central Christian practice.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time we are reminded that God sent His only Son to save us and heal us. Jesus gave of Himself even to the point of dying on a cross. Thank God for those selfless people, like Will Pooley, who give of themselves way beyond any reasonable expectation. They are a beacon of hope for mankind.
A Holy and Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones.