San Diego Woman Writes Letters For Liberia to Raise Awareness

The nonprofit founder had to flee Liberia ahead of the Ebola outbreak

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A local woman who runs a nonprofit in Liberia is trying to raise awareness about the Ebola outbreak there by writing letters. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala has her story. (Published Monday, Aug 18, 2014)

A San Diego woman who runs a nonprofit in Liberia says she had no choice but to leave the country during the deadly Ebola outbreak. Now, she’s determined to get others to help.

Deborah Lindholm heads the Foundation for Women, an organization that gives women in impoverished countries microloans so they can start businesses and educate themselves and families. She was in Liberia when the U.S. State Department warned all Americans to leave or risk getting the disease themselves.

Lindholm told NBC 7 she was lucky enough to get out of the African country but is heartbroken to leave her friends behind.

Unwilling to sit and do nothing, she decided to raise awareness and money for the country by writing "Letters for Liberia.”

“I left Liberia yesterday,” read one letter, “and left so many dear and special people behind who have no options other than to stay and to pray."

Whether it’s survivor's guilt or strong compassion, Deborah Lindholm said she won't stop writing until she knows her friends are safe.

“The situation in Liberia is absolutely dire. It's not just a health issue in a small African country,” she said. “It's a global human tragedy, and all of us need to step up and realize this is affecting our human family.”

The nonprofit leader now writes these letters on her blog to mobilize others to help, and she makes daily calls to the Vice President of Liberia's Chief of Staff Sam Stevquoah, desperate to get updates.

“The sooner we can get as much help as possible to contain this, the better,” said Stevquoah. “Our limited resources have been really, really stretched to the max. They are at breaking point."

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has killed 413 Liberians so far. Most airlines have stopped flights to West Africa.

But Deborah said she if she can't go back, she'll work for those she left behind.

“This is not an Africa story; this is a human family story, and we all can do something to help make it better,” she said.

Deborah and her Foundation for Women compiled a list of all the things people in Liberia need, ranging from bleach to hand sanitizer. To see the list and learn how to donate, visit the organization’s website.

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