From miles away, local group works to help West Africans in Ebola crisis

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) For the past few years, the group Teamwork Africa has been traveling to the country of Liberia to bring clean drinking water to dozens of villages.

But in the midst of the worst Ebola outbreak in history, the group has launched an effort to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Peggy Halvorsen was packing her bags for another trip to Liberia to help start a school in a small village over there, the Ebola outbreak has put those plans on hold, but that hasn't stopped the local organization that Peggy runs from helping half a world away.

"This week when the president announced that all the schools would be closing I knew there was no sense in me going at this time so we will post-pone the trip until school starts," says Halvorsen.

Suitcases and school supplies sit packed and ready to go in Halvorsen's garage, all set for a trip in just a few weeks to the country of Liberia.

This trip was going to be Peggy's eighth to a country she calls a home away from home. That trip and the plans to start teaching kids in a small village now are put on hold while the countries of Liberia, Guinnea, and Sierra Leone work to stop the largest spread of Ebola to hit West Africa.

"They really need health workers there that will go to the village and help do the education piece," Halvorsen explains.

While the World Health Organization has announced a $100 million response plan, and a call has been issued for doctors to come to the area,the Halvorsens and their group Teamwork Africa have a simple plan to help stop the spread of the virus.

"One of the recommendations is hand washing but without clean running water in most Liberian homes there is no where for people to wash their hands," she says.

The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. One of the ways to cut down on transmission is through hand washing. That's why the group started raising money for simple buckets filled with water and chlorine bleach that gives families in Liberia a little peace of mind during the Ebola outbreak.

"They are so frightened and they feel so helpless that even the simple act of washing their hands makes them feel like they are proactive that they are doing something to help prevent this disease," says Halvorsen.

"One woman came up to me and said it's the least we could do it's $15 for a bucket and think of how many people that it can help," Mark Halvorsen said.

Teamwork Africa says dozens of hand washing buckets already have been distributed to villages that need them. If you'd like to donate money toward the hand washing buckets we have a link to Teamwork Africa's site on the right-hand side of this screen.

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