Liberians in Rhode Island worried about their friends and family back home gathered Thursday at the State House in Providence to show support for the effort to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia and West Africa.
"People are dying. People need to know that this is real," said Kingston resident Samelia Roberts. "It's a global crisis. It's not just an African crisis."
Rhode Island has the largest Liberian community in the nation. It included Roberts and the group of people who joined the rally.
"Google says that we have 5,000 in the state of Rhode Island," said Winston Gould, president of the Liberian Community Association.
Gould hopes their numbers and voice will convince Rhode Island to do its part in the battle against a virus that's killed more than 900 people.
"Let our officials, elected officials know we need help," Providence resident Tina Taylor said. "Go back to Washington and tell Congress, 'Ebola it can't be cured, but it can be contained.'"
The group is collecting donations to send back home that can help keep their family and friends safe. It passed out flyers asking for hand sanitizer, anti-microbial hand soap, Clorox bleach, chlorine, disinfectants, gloves, medical buckets and faucets, plastic spray bottles, disposable gowns, hazardous materials suits, goggles, plastic aprons, face masks and water bottles.
"Our most needed supplies would be the protective gear right now," Gould said. "Protective gear is what we need because we need to equip those health workers that are going out there to take care of the victims."
Many of the people at the rally live in Rhode Island, but have family in West Africa.
"They're scared," Roberts said. "They can't even go outside."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report there are currently 516 cases of Ebola in Liberia and 282 deaths as of Monday.
"Africa can't battle this problem on its own," Taylor said. "These people are simple people. They lead simple lives and Ebola's like a monster that they need help to contain."
The community is hosting a fasting and praying event from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Trinity United Methodist Church on 375 Broad St. in Providence.
If you have any supplies, the group asks you drop them off at one of three locations:
500 Broad St., Providence, RI
711 Broad St., Providence, RI
93 Providence Ave., Providence, RI