Local Peace Corps Volunteer Returns Home from Western Africa

Created: 08/05/2014 7:37 PM
By: Justin Thompson-Gee

(ABC 6 News) -- As Ebola continues to spread across western Africa, international organizations are rushing to evacuate aid works from the region.

This includes a one local man who is now home after being evacuated from Guinea by the Peace Corps.

A passion for people and service brought Geoff Delperdang from Clear Lake, IA to Telimele, Guinea to serve in the Peace Corps.

“I was there as an education volunteer, so I was teaching physics and math in French at the high school level,” Delperdang says.

Geoff was supposed to finish his second year in the Peace Corps at the end of August, but then Ebola started spreading, “about February when the first case broke out in Guinea in the forest region,” Delperdang says.

Geoff tells ABC 6 News he wasn’t worried about the virus because Telimele was so isolated, until the middle of May, when someone slipped through the cracks.

"She later fell ill of Ebola and ended up contaminating many people in her family,” Delperdang says.

That’s when Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross set up and people began to worry, “because all of a sudden this terrifying disease was in our community.”

Geoff began volunteering with the Red Cross, alongside his students, training community members, “how to protect yourself, how to prevent the disease, how the disease is transmitted,” says Delperdang.

Because of these efforts and symptomatic treatments, within a month of the first case in Telimele, the virus was eradicated.

"When the body is strong enough to fight off the virus, that’s when the patients are eventually cured,” says Delperdang.

Since the Ebola outbreak began, the Peace Corps was keeping Geoff and other volunteers updated on the situation through text message. But three weeks before his scheduled departure, that text told Geoff his service was cut short and he would be returning home. 

“I hadn’t had really any time to prepare myself, to really say goodbye as I wanted to,” Delperdang says.

Photo: ABC 6 News