As worldwide attention centers on the medical need in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak, an Oklahoma nonprofit is focusing on helping other Liberians in need, children with learning disabilities. The group, My Heart's Appeal, Inc., is sending care packages their way.
For weeks since the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia, the nonprofit has been collecting food and supplies. On Saturday, volunteers from UCO, local Rotary clubs and the United Methodist Church of the Servant sorted through canned goods and sanitizer and packed them to in plastic totes to give to Liberians.
In conjunction with Down Syndrome Awareness month, My Heart's Appeal wanted to do something for the often neglected children with learning disabilities. Their outreach is the only of its kind in West Africa catering to special needs children. The group's founder, Lovetie Major, grew up in Liberia and witnessed the struggles her sister with down syndrome faced.
After Major recently visited Liberia and saw the outcry for help during the Ebola outbreak, she organized a care package relief drive to help more than 100 families struggling to get basic necessities.
"Getting food is hard, what we're giving these families is not much in the bags, but at least it's a gesture to let our families know that we care," Major said.
“Just a way of saying that these kids are loved, and they are not just created, you know to be ridiculed, they are children of God, they need to be recognized and given opportunity.”
A shipping company out of Dallas will pick up the care packages in Oklahoma City next week to take to Liberia.
“We are with them in solidarity, we have not forgotten about them, it's the Oklahoma spirit to help, and the world has become so much smaller because we see needs everywhere and we respond to them,” said Arthur Richardson, chairman of the board of directors for My Heart's Appeal.
The nonprofit is also in the process of building a school in Liberia for children with learning disabilities.