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Althea4Althea Against Ebola raises awareness and funds for Liberian student

Colorado State University sophomore biology major Althea Weeks held her Althea4Althea Against Ebola presentation in Laurel Village’s Pavilion Thursday to raise awareness and funds for her friend in Liberia, also named Althea Weeks.

During the event, Weeks and sophomore health and human sciences major Sarah Bibbey read an interview between Weeks at CSU and Weeks in Liberia, whom she met on Facebook as a result of their unlikely coincidence.

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“She just looked me up on Facebook, saw we had the same first and last name and decided we were going to be best friends,” Weeks at CSU said.

Weeks in Liberia attended the University of Liberia as a civil engineering major until Ebola broke out in West Africa. For the last six months, her school has been shut down and as a result, the government might revoke her scholarship.

“I am 22 years old and I used to, on a typical day, sell groundnut before I ate and went to school,” Weeks in Liberia said in her interview with Weeks at CSU.

Weeks lives in Monrovia, Liberia, where there are fewer cases of Ebola than in southern Liberia. Still, the crisis has eroded the whole country’s infrastructure, as people struggle to get proper health care and schools shut down to prevent spreading Ebola.

“I am afraid to leave my house,” Weeks in Liberia said. “No school is open for now, and the death rate of Ebola has started to increase again.”

Caridad Souza, a CSU ethnic studies professor and director of the center for women’s studies and gender research, partnered with Weeks at CSU and Bibbey to organize the event.

Souza has previously traveled to Ghana and works with non-profit Africa Educates, which works to connect international issues with local communities.

“The fundraising helps to directly impact people’s lives,” Souza said. “This is a crisis and people are not eating. They can’t move and they’re going to be sequestered. Basically, they’re going to be quarantined.”

Bibbey has handled the financial side of Althea4Althea, such as by organizing their Community Funded campaign. She believes that a lot of their success could come from promoting the campaign through social media.

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“Last year, for Enliven Mama Africa, I had a very successful crowdfunding project, and a lot of that came from sending out emails and always promoting it on Facebook,” Bibbey said. “For this campaign, I had a friend find the link on Facebook and donate 100 dollars.”

The campaign’s goal is 800 dollars, which will be used to support Weeks’ education in Liberia. Contributions can be made on the campaign’s website until Monday, Jan. 5.

“Spread awareness and let other people know that people are struggling over there,” Weeks at CSU said. “It’s important to help these people on not just a financial level, but an emotional and mental level.”

Collegian Business and Technology Beat Reporter Nicholas LeVack can be qreached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @NicholasLeVack.

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