Valley couple knows Ebola outbreak firsthand

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The West African Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and has already claimed the lives of more than 800 people.  A Valley couple knows the situation firsthand, having been in the region as the virus began to spread.

Liberia is at the center of the outbreak.  Brant and Anna Nyhart are aid workers who just got back from that country. They made it out healthy but they’re concerned for the people they help back in Liberia.

“I fell in love with the Liberian people so it's definitely hard knowing that the little babies that I love so much could potentially have this disease or get this disease,” said Anna Nyhart.

Brant Nyhart is president Global Resource Group, a non-profit aid organization that helps build orphanages and educate new teachers in Liberia.  He and Anna were still in Liberia as the Ebola virus began to spread. 

“There had been a couple reports of patients with confirmed Ebola way out in the bush; not in Monrovia where we work,” said Brant.  “I wouldn't go back now, no.  I'm hoping to go back in December or January if things clear up.”

The Nyharts believe Liberian officials are doing everything they can to stop the spread of disease but the country has few resources and even less infrastructure to work with.

“Trash everywhere and very low standard of living. And that was hard for me to see with, just, the orphans running around without underwear - bruises, all scraped up.  That was very hard for me to see,” said Anna.

"The best of their hospitals are nothing we would want to be in," said Brant, adding that many Liberian medical facilities are nothing more than tents.

The poor infrastructure isn't the only obstacle to combating the Ebola outbreak.

“One of the biggest obstacles… is mistrust in the government.  A prime example of that is people we worked with, initially, not believing that Ebola is something that is real and something they need to be aware of instead of something they thought was created by the Liberian government to garner more foreign aid,” said Brant. 

From their home in Phoenix, the Nyharts are keeping up with friends back in Liberia and hoping they stay healthy.

“I actually got to talk to two of the little boys on the phone today,” said Anna.  “And praise God they're both healthy.”