Fatu Kekula didn't have a hazmat suit or physician's expertise. She did, however, have trash bags, some nursing training and the determination to save lives amid the Ebola outbreak.
And she succeeded.
Now, with the support of one American university and a growing pool of inspired supporters, the 22-year-old Liberian woman is set to finish her nursing education in the U.S., possibly free-of-charge with the help of donors.
Over a two-week period in August, Kekula personally cared for all of her immediate family members -- her 52-year-old father, 57-year-old mother and 28-year-old sister -- when they contracted Ebola. She used rubber boots, gloves and a mask (along with the trash bags) for protection, as CNN reported. They all survived.
Although Kekula's 14-year-old cousin died of the disease in her care, Kekula's efforts produced a 25 percent mortality rate -- significantly lower than the 70 percent overall average founded by the World Health Organization.
UNICEF Spokeswoman Sarah Crowe told CNN that Kekula's tireless work saving her family was remarkable.
“Doctors called and told me to leave them right alone and not go anywhere near them,” Kekula told the Los Angeles Times. “I couldn’t. They’re my only family."
An IAmProjects fundraising page has been set-up to help Kekula, who has over three years of nursing training from Liberia’ Cuttington University, finish her education in the field. As of Friday afternoon, more than $19,500 has been raised of the $40,000 goal for tuition at Emory University in Atlanta -- where she plans on starting classes in January -- as well as living and travel expenses.
The epidemic resulted in Liberia having to close schools, which prevented Kekula's from finishing her education there.
"I'm very, very proud," Kekula's father, who was the first in the family to become infected in July, told CNN. Having gone to the hospital for a blood pressure-related issue, his assigned hospital bed had been used previously by a late Ebola patient. "She saved my life through the almighty God."
Although Liberia is one the hardest-hit nations by Ebola with 3,290 deaths resulting from the virus, progress has been made. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon visited the West African nation on Friday and voiced praises for Liberia's efforts halting the virus, as Voice of America reported.
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