West Africa natives who call America home facing discrimination over Ebola

West Africa natives who call America home facing discrimination over Ebola

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The stigma of the Ebola virus is being felt by many people living in the U.S. who are originally from West Africa. They say they not only have to see their loved ones overseas dying from this devastating disease, but are also dealing with people who don't understand that they don't have the virus.

"I was born and raised in Liberia but, I'm an American," said Staff Sgt. Daynah Zoe.

Zoe, who is posted at Fort Knox, is from Liberia. He was tortured by rebels in his native country and came to the United States in 2001 for a better life. He went to college in Kentucky and eventually joined the Army. Now he wears his uniform with pride.

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"I joined the Army because in my opinion around the world, the U.S. has used the military to restore order to bring about civility," said Zoe.

Zoe has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. What he has seen while fighting and protecting our freedom is much different than what's going on in West Africa he said.

"I've been to firefights and they are dangerous, but the Ebola virus is more dangerous, more fearful than firefight," said Zoe. "It's silent, you can't see it, you can't hear it. When you feel it when you see someone dying from it."

Zoe said the Ebola virus in Liberia has killed nine of his cousins.

In late September, he along with several other Liberians living in Kentucky, came together to raise awareness and money for medical supplies for their native country.

Since the outbreak, Zoe said he has also noticed and felt the stigma and discrimination the virus has spawned.

"They ask me where I'm from," said Zoe. "Once I tell them I'm from Liberia they step back a little bit."

Zoe said several of his friends who are also from Liberia have faced discrimination at work. He hopes people will see him for who he is, not just where he came from.

"I want people to know, I am an American," said Zoe. "I love the United States, I live here."

The last time Zoe went to Liberia was in January to bury his mother. Because of the virus outbreak, he said he doesn't have any plans to go back anytime soon.

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