My daughter Claire, an intensive care unit nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, took on the position of coordinator of the hospital's Ebola response team when Northwestern became one of 35 U.S. hospitals designated as an Ebola treatment center.
But after months of practicing for an Ebola outbreak, she will soon be facing the real thing.
Last night Claire arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, one of a group of nurses, doctors, and logisticians who like her, have enlisted to fight in the war against Ebola. They came with Partners In Health, the international social justice and health organization founded by Paul Farmer for the purpose of improving health care for the world's poorest people.
Claire met the members of her group last Wednesday when she and they arrived at PIH headquarters in Boston for several days of orientation before leaving for West Africa. Like Claire, everyone in the group had previous experience working in health-impoverished countries, all seasoned veterans in battles fought not to take lives but to save them.
On Saturday morning the group left Boston to embark on their 30-hour flight to Sierra Leone with layovers in Newark, Brussels, Senegal and Guinea.
Claire's schedule has her training with the World Health Organization in Freetown through Wednesday, then she'll move to Port Loko, a town about two hours north of Freetown where she'll work in an Ebola treatment unit, though she may be moved around the country to other clinics as needed.
Many people have asked me if I'm worried about Claire.
My answer, in truth, is no.
Because I believe that Claire is doing the Lord's work and that she's now in His hands.
But when I learned that she'd arrived safely in Freetown I lit a candle that I'll light every day until she arrives safely home.
I'll keep it lit for a while each day to remind me of my dear one, bringing her beautiful light to a dark place.
She'll spend six weeks, the standard tour of duty, in uniform in increments of an hour at a time.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world.”
—Dr. Paul Farmer