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September 29, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

University students participate in mission in Liberia before outbreak

The Ebola outbreak this past summer in Western Africa may seem like a world away from Bowling Green, but for University students Madison Young and Davin Fumich, the epidemic hits a little closer to home.

This past summer, from June 17 to July 3, Young and Fumich, along with seven other college-aged students from northwest Ohio, went on a mission trip to Liberia to strengthen bonds between the locals and their faith, as well as to provide school supplies to local children.

Their mission trip coincided with the rise of Ebola in western Africa, which has killed 2,414 people in Liberia as of Oct. 21, according to

While Ebola has been in Liberia for several months, Grand Bassa County, where Young and Fumich worked, remained unaffected by the outbreak during their trip.

The slow spread of the virus can be explained in part by the travel habits of Liberians.

“I had experience being there and knew the country,” said Josh Low, team leader for the trip and a student at Baldwin Wallace University. “I know that it’s hard to get from county to county. It can take two days to get from one side of the country to the other,”

While there was some initial worrying about the outbreak and the effect it would have on the trip, Young and Fumich put their trust into the Northwest United Methodist Church, which sponsored the trip.

“When we were there, it was pretty safe,” Young said. “I’ve never felt safer because of the way they took care of us.”

Fumich said she felt the same way.

“I totally forgot about the Ebola thing when I was there,” Fumich said. “We should have been more worried about malaria than Ebola.”

The spread of Ebola is largely through an exchange of bodily fluids, while malaria spreads through bug bites, making it an easier disease to catch.

Even signs of Ebola were hard to see, due in part to the secluded nature of where they were based, Fumich said.

For Young, the first sign of Ebola she saw while in Liberia was when the group was in the airport to return to the United States.

“When we were about to leave, the TV at the airport was talking about all of the deaths and I realized how bad it was,” Young said.

Since their group left, Ebola has spread to Grand Bassa County, and members of the community they worked in have died from Ebola.

“It is a lot scarier now than when we went there,” Low said.

Despite the relative amounts of danger facing their mission trip, Young, Fumich and Low said they would all do it again.

“It was the best experience of my life,” Young said. “I wasn’t experiencing Ebola; I was experiencing the people.”

For students who want to travel or do mission work in potentially dangerous areas, Low recommends they talk to people who have been there.

“If you’re really feeling led to go on a trip, go with your heart,” Fumich said. “But at the same time, don’t be blind to possible dangers.”

Fumich said the safety that her group provided helped her decide to go.

“If you are in a dangerous spot and connected with the right people,” Fumich said, “they will get you out if there’s any danger.”

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