Flat Stanley Visits the Ebola Fighters

A few months after I arrived back in Liberia, I was joined by Stanley Lambchop.

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He was mailed to me by my cousin Nicholas, who is currently finishing the third grade.

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Stanley got flat when a bulletin board his father mounted over his bed fell on him during the night. He quickly discovered that being flat offered certain advantages, like being a kite or fitting in envelopes so he could be mailed around the world. He has a series of books that chronicle his many adventures.

Stanleys have been mailed by schoolchildren to all parts of the world, but to my knowledge my cousin’s Stanley is the first (and only) Stanley who has visited an Ebola outbreak.

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Stanley tagged along with me and made lots of friends while I went about my business. He met some pretty amazing people. Here he is with Dr. Rick Sacra and Dr. John Fankhauser while they were getting ready to clean Nancy Writebol’s house:

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Dr. Rick was the third American to be infected with Ebola in this epidemic, after Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol. Thankfully, they all recovered thanks to the efforts of heroes like Dr. John. After helping care for Dr. Kent and Nancy, Dr. John had returned to America to take a break, but when he got the news that Dr. Rick tested positive for Ebola he interrupted his break to go back to Liberia to care for his friend.

Stanley also enjoyed meeting other kids and doing things with them. He helped pump water,

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fix a generator,

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and even got to play some tetherball:

Stanley also accompanied me on some of my trips into the field.

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Whenever we crossed county borders we were all required to get out of the car,

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wash our hands,

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and then get our temperature taken:

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Stanley even made friends with some of the guards at these checkpoints:

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On this trip, Stanley got to help prepare some of the Infection Protection and Control (IPC) kits that we were distributing. These kits were basically hand-washing buckets that were distributed to communities along with bleach, soap, gloves and training so that people could help prevent Ebola (and other sicknesses) in their communities.

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Here’s Stanley helping some people measure bleach for the IPC kits:

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By the time I left in April, Samaritan’s Purse had distributed over 60,000 of these kits across seven counties in Liberia!

Stanley also got to fly in our helicopter! Here he is with Captain Mike before and after takeoff:

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Stanley was very fascinated by all the instruments and controls inside the helicopter:

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It took a couple tries before he figured out how to properly use the headphones:

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Stanley had a little bit of a scare while looking out the window:

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On this flight into the bush, we visited a Community Care Center (CCC) that Samaritan’s Purse was managing. These care centers, along with Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), were a part of Liberia’s national strategy to stop the spread of Ebola. Samaritan’s Purse managed four of these CCCs in three counties in Liberia. (Two of the four were constructed by Samaritan’s Purse as well).

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This CCC hadn’t had any patients yet, and so Nurse Kathy had the CCC staff give her a walkthrough of the facility to make sure everything was set up correctly. The layout of the CCC is very important: if you don’t have everything in the right order and in the right place, health care workers are in danger of getting exposed to the virus.

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Nurse Kathy also spent some time reviewing the “donning” and “doffing” procedures with the CCC staff. “Donning” and “doffing” refers to the steps that you take to put on and take off your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whenever you go into a CCC or ETU to care for Ebola patients. It is a many step process that you must follow carefully so that you do not expose yourself to the virus!

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Finally, it was time to go, and Stanley got this great selfie as we took off:

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For part of the way back, Captain Mike followed a river. Captain Mike was trained in a special kind of low altitude flying while he was in the military and so we had an exciting ride:

Stanley loved it in Liberia! So much so that he decide to stay — he’s still there now, having more adventures!

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4 Responses to Flat Stanley Visits the Ebola Fighters

  1. Stanley playing tether ball and wearing headphones were my favorite. Like the gourd tetherball. –Curt

  2. Beth Bo. says:

    So I don’t think Stanley will ever take another adventure like this. Pretty amazing!

  3. Laurie Garibay says:

    Kyle,
    We really enjoyed reading and watching the videos on your blog. It was amazing to see what is happening in Liberia. We particularly enjoyed seeing the video from the helicopter. Awesome! Thank you for letting us see Liberia from Esteban el plano’s perspective.
    Sincerely,
    Nicholas, Sra. Garibay and the entire class in Room 5 at Cesar Chavez Elementary, Davis, CA

  4. Leo says:

    We took Flat Stanley to Paris, but I think that helicopter ride tops it all! Really fascinating to see the work that was done and continues to be done there.

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