Saturday, August 1, 2015

More Sharing Economy… Driving Uber vs Lyft in DC

LYFT COUPON CODE:                VIRGINIA147995
Good for a free ride for new Lyft passengers, or $750 sign-on bonus for new Lyft drivers

UBER COUPON CODE:                   KKE8S 
Good for a free ride for new Uber passengers, or $500 sign-on bonus for new drivers who are already Lyft drivers/other sign-on bonuses vary by city

So, after applying for Uber a month ago and going through the background check twice (they forgot to check my old out of state license, so it looked like I had only been driving a car for a few months and Uber initially denied my application), I was finally hired this week.

Here’s how driving for Uber vs Lyft compares down here.  Below info is based on driving between 5am-2am, 7 days a week, in Downtown, NOMA, Foggy Bottom, Cathedral Heights ,around Howard U, Arlington, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, College Park, and Silver Springs

Lyft                                                                                                                            Uber                                                                                   
Base fares are maybe 3-5% higher than Uber                                   Base fare 3-5% lower than Lyft
Tips average 8-10% on top of fare                                                    Uber discourages tipping
Average drive time to rider is 4-10 min                                       Average drive time to rider is 2-6 min
Occasionally there are 25% surges.  Higher surges are rare.              Very common surges 20%-290%
Surges have a tendency to end before you can move into an area.     Surges tend to last long enough                                                                                                                                                 to reach
There aren’t a whole lot of predictable, every day surges.         Uber DC surges 1/3 to ½ the day,                                                                                                          often at rush hour, during rain and events
Average wait time between rides is 5-10 min                      Average wait time between rides 0.5-4 min
Riders are often friendly and chatty                                         Riders more likely to play/talk on cell
Current sign on bonus is $750                                                  Sign on bonus for Lyft drivers is $500
$1500/wk guaranteed for 1st 4 weeks if drive 50hrs                          No current earnings guarantees
10-20% weekly bonus available, but it is a pain in the butt to get      No weekly bonuses currently

So, the long and short of it is that its very worth it to sign up for both Lyft and Uber for the signup bonuses.  After that, expect to make roughly $10-$25/hr before income tax. 
Now that I have Uber I almost never turn the Lyft app on.  It is better to immediately get an Uber fare, than to wait for a Lyft fare, and then drive a longer distance to pick them up.  For rideshare drivers, bigger is better.  Lyft does do a 20% bonus, but to get it, you have to take almost every request (even if it means driving, unpaid, 25min to get to the request), and you need to be driving for Lyft during all those peak hours when Uber is surging to 50-250%.. not worth it at the moment.  Another thing I’ve noticed about Lyft is that about 20% of my requests get cancelled after I’ve driven towards them for a couple minutes…. Then I don’t get paid.  On the other hand, Uber has given an inaccurate location on about 30% of my fares so far, resulting in wasted time, unpaid driving, and aggravation for everyone involved.
One thing Lyft is nice for is slow times during midday… running both apps at once increases chances of getting a fare without a long wait time.
Lyft and Uber have been a great gig so far… giving me the ability to earn a comfortable income, but still travel or take an hour or a day off, at any moment that I wish.
Yea sharing economy!

LYFT COUPON CODE:                VIRGINIA147995
Good for a free ride for new Lyft passengers, or $750 sign-on bonus for new Lyft drivers

UBER COUPON CODE:                   KKE8S
Good for a free ride for new Uber passengers, or $500 sign-on bonus for new drivers who are already Lyft drivers/other sign-on bonuses vary by city

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Experience Driving Lyft and Uber in DC, code for DC $750 referral bonus for new Lyft drivers

So, I just started working Lyft in DC.  Here are the answers to all the questions I had when considering whether to work Lyft.  Later, I'll do the same deal for Uber!

If anyone is signing up to drive for Lyft in DC and needs a referral code for the $750 bonus, here's mine: VIRGINIA147995

Just apply on the Lyft site with that code, or use this link:

The way the bonus works is this: Apply AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  The bonus only applies to the first 1,000 applicants.  Lyft is not generally known for their bonuses, so $750 is a pretty big deal.  Uber is recruiting Lyft drivers, so you could theoretically drive with Lyft until Uber puts out a bonus for existing Lyft drivers, and wind up with even more in bonuses.

You need:
- DC metro area drivers license (VA, DC, and MD residents can drive for Lyft in DC).  Insurance for the car in your name.
- 2004 or newer car that is reasonable clean and free of major dents or damage (major stuff that could make your passengers question your driving skills).
- Friendly personality, ability to pass a basic criminal/driving history background check (for questions on this I would check with Lyft... they are pretty motivated to hire drivers, so if you have something explainable in your history I would tell them and see what they say)
- Complete 50 rides within 30 days of being approved as a driver.

So.. what is it like to drive for Lyft/Uber in Washington DC, and is it worth it?

This was my Lyft experience.
 APPLICATION.  I got a referral code and was really careful to enter it when I applied online.  It took about 2 min to fill out the forms.  A week later Lyft sent me an email saying I was approved to take my mentoring ride/road test. 
ROAD TEST.  I clicked the "request mentor for road test" option on the Lyft app (self-explanatory once you get to this point).  30 sec later I was driving 1 mile to meet my mentor, Eric.  He was very friendly, spent about 10 min explaining Lyft and giving advice on driving, took a pic of me and the car, and checked the car for cleanliness and functionality of lights, wipers, airbags, etc.  Then he hopped in and we went for 2 ~10min drives.  During one I followed the GPS to a point (Google Maps or ATT Navigator are the approved apps for this).  During the other drive he gave me directions to a point.  I got a little nervous and missed a turn on the GPS drive, but it was not a big deal at all.  All in all it was a low-stress mentoring session and Eric was very helpful.  I got a chance to ask any questions I wanted to.  (On this note, Lyft's online question answering service has also been very helpful and responsive... it seems to be a good community of drivers).  We parted and Eric sent in my info.  An hour later I got an email from Lyft saying I was approved to drive and could do my first ride.
FIRST DRIVE.  I wasn't sure how it all worked until I did this.  Here it is:
Open Lyft app, in the upper right is a little symbol of a steering wheel.  Push it.  You are instantly available as a driver.  Push it again and you are instantly done working for the time being.  It's a simple as that... work whenever you want, for 1 sec up to 14 hours straight.  There are no minimum times or scheduled hours.. the ultimate in flexibility.
If someone near you requests a ride, their pic, distance to them (eg 5 min), and the average rating that other drivers have given them pops up on your phone.  You have 15 sec to accept the request.  If you don't it will just go away.  It doesn't really matter if you accept or not, but Lyft likes you to turn off the app when you're unavailable, and there are some bonuses available if you accept more than 90% of requests.  For me, this mean I usually try to accept a request, unless it is so far away I feel I will lose money on it, or if it's late and I'm in a part of town I'm not comfortable with.  You don't see where the rider is until you accept the request.  After accepting you can easily cancel the ride if you want, though it's not the best for your rating to do it alot.  I did this once for a ride that would have taken me 20 min out of town during prime time, just to pick the rider up.  You don't know where the rider's ultimate destination is until they get in the car. 
I accepted my first rider, drove to them, and pushed "arrive" on the app when I got there.  They had entered their destination and it popped up automatically on google maps for me.  When we arrived I pushed "drop off" and gave them a 5star rating.  Then I was available for the next ride.
It took me about a week to figure out what times of the day where worth driving and which weren't.  After 14 hours of driving in a 24 hour period, you have to take 6 hours off, whether or not the 14 hours were continuous.

- an almost instant part time or full time job
- hourly pay is pretty decent if you plan it right
- complete flexibility in setting your own hours and taking time off
- great sign-on bonuses
- meet interesting people, hear stories, brighten someone's day if they're stressed
- Lyft increases availability of transport service to the deaf, mute, and blind communities.  Fare-sharing allows drivers to make more money, passengers to save money, and increases efficiency of the transport system.

- High hourly wages are definitely not guaranteed; it all depends on volume of requests vs availability of drivers
- Potential for a lot of frustration at earning levels if you do not carefully assess your costs and wind up working during slow periods, working <50 20="" a="" and="" br="" etc.="" for="" gas="" hrs="" losing="" lot="" lyft="" needing="" of="" paying="" repairs="" to="" vehicle="" wk="">

SAFETY and PEOPLE: I've done 50 rides so far, and all of my riders have been friendly and nice.  I have not yet run into anyone who was unpleasant or made me feel uncomfortable.  About 50% of people want to chat, and the other half spend the ride on their phones/computers/phone conference/resting from a long work day.  A lot of people have interesting or funny stories to share.

AVERAGE HOURLY PAY: I have found that I gross $15-$25/hr in DC, depending on whether there is prime time pricing going on in the pickup area (+25%-100%), WHEN I DRIVE FOR 50-60 MIN OUT OF THE HOUR.  However, during a 14 hour weekday, I wind up only actively driving for about 50% of the time, so the hourly rate is less.  I'm OK with this because I bring my computer and get work done when not driving.  If it were not for this, though, it would really only be worth driving during commute hours and weekends, when I'm actively driving 75-100% of the time.

NET HOURLY PAY:  This is a hairy one.  So, these are the costs involved for driving Lyft:
1) Opportunity cost for down time when waiting for a ride request.  It's not really worth driving during non-prime hours unless you have something worthwhile to fill your off time: online work, writing, reading, simultaneous Uber driving, etc.
2) Fuel.  I drive a Prius and at 45 mpg and this works out to about $8-$10/$100 gross earned.
3) Other car costs: I consider most car costs, such as registration, insurance, etc, as costs I would have anyway.  Insurance: the vast majority of drivers use regular car insurance and don't mention to their insurance companies that they're ridesharing.  Commercial insurance costs roughly $6-10,000/year.  Lyft and Uber do provide some coverage when you're driving; this is worth researching for up to date info before signing up.  Wear and Tear: I put an average of 200 miles per day on the car during a 14 hour day.
4) Taxes: You have to pay an extra 15.3% self-employment tax.  On the other hand, you get to deduct expenses such as fuel and food and maintenance.  I average this out by deducting 10% of my gross for taxes.
5) Lyft takes a 20% commission, unless you turn the app on > 50 hrs/wk, including 10 hours during prime times- morning commutes and weekends.

I work > 50 hours/wk.  So, my net earnings tend to be:

$100 gross earnings:
- $10 for fuel
- $20 in Lyft commissions
+ $20 in commission rebate because I turn the app on for >50hrs/wk
- $10 in taxes
+ $8 in tips
$88 net earnings per $100 in gross earnings, minus car maintenance and repairs depending on your luck.

Since I've just started with Lyft, you'll have to wait for an updated post showing average daily earnings/hours worked.  It will make it very clear why it's only worth working prime time hours, or coupling Lyft with Uber work in DC!

BONUS: They didn't confirm when I signed on that I qualified for the $500 sign-up bonus, however it did show up as promised the day after I completed my 30th ride.

Hope this was helpful for those considering entering the sharing economy.  Again, you need a driver referral # for the $750 double-sided sign on bonus; ask your Lyft driver for one or use mine below:


Just apply on the Lyft site with that code, or use this link:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On the Road to Sierra Leone

Strange transition from cold and wind in Portland, Maine, to the relative warmth of Casablanca, Morocco

Painting above my bed in the place we're crashing before leaving Maine... I'm not sure what this man's intentions are, but I feel mildly apprehensive!

Director Dunn helping to move the great big pile of advance team luggage (170 lbs of medical supplies)

Waves crash against the footings of the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca (this is the largest mosque in Africa, with a retractable roof, ability to accomodate >100,000 worshipers, the tallest minaret in the world (689') Inside the mosque, glass panels allow beautiful views of the seabed of the Atlantic.  At night a green lasar light points from the minaret, towards Mecca).
The mosque was completed in 1993 and has since seen repairs necessitated by the challenging nature of its exposed location.  Saltwater has migrated into the concrete and corroded hidden rebar.  This and over 100 loadbearing pillars were replaced in 2003 in a major repair undertaking.  The mosque now has what is in effect an outer waterproof hull beyond the original foundation, which protects the loadbearing elements from saltwater damage.
  Next to the mosque is a long seawall with a broad flat top.  During our layover, IMA's advance team joined a large crowd of locals, who seemed to have gathered not only to enjoy the sun, but also view a succession of daring human encounters with the sea.  Near our perch an angled white sand beach and a projecting section of coarse riprap worked in concert to funnel breakers violently against the seawall.  This funneling effect caused larger waves to rush up vertically against the seawall, break into fine spray over onlookers, and dissolve backwards into a churning wash of foam and undertow.  Local schoolboys made a game of running into the funnel, then racing back out just in time to avoid the potentially deadly action of the larger waves.  As we watched them, a woman in her 50's slowly made her way down the beach towards the funnel.  She was barefoot and bore a headscarf wrapped around a grapefruit-sized object.  Something was unidentifyably wrong with her expression, and mood she was projecting, as she slowly entered the funnel and bent, dipping the headscarf into a series of small waves that rushed in around her feet.  We saw an odd smile on her face, then one of the large waves came in and she disappeared beneath it.  We rushed down onto the riprap to assist her, balance thrown off by our heavy backpacks.  The crowd laughed and pointed, then fell silent as people grew concerned and started to rise to their feet.  We were joined by several local men, and together we helped the woman get back on her feet and up onto the safety of the riprap before the next large breaker hit.  She was not appreciative of the help, slapping away the proffered hands.  We were quite concerned about her and kept a discreet eye on her afterwards, as she stood on the roadway for a long while, looking quite upset and angry.  Eventually family arrived and joined her.  We never did find out what it was all about.
We continued our people-watching atop the seawall.  Occassionally a whistle blew, as mosque security chased off mischievous teens or the over-amorous young couples who tried to tuck themselves away into cool dark alcoves of the mosque.  Our next risk-taker made his way across the rip-rap below us.  He paused at the end of the seawall, stripped down to shorts, then produced and donned a pair of green flippers and small plastic goggles.  He had a short military-style haircut and had the lean, muscled look of someone who works for a living.  All eyes were on him as he entered the water and swam straight for a protruding corner of the mosque foundation, where a 6' wide whirlpool was created by each passing breaker. Somehow, he timed his swim to miss the whirlpool, and swam further and further out, ducking beneath each wave.  Finally he turned, and kicking mightily, caught a breaker and body-surfed in, almost to the beach.  Impression made, he then exited the water, doffed his flippers, and returned to his pile of clothing.  
I made a mental note to carry flippers with me while traveling in the future.

Friday, December 26, 2014

IMA Advance Team Preparing to Deploy to Sierra Leone

International Mutual Aid's advance team has completed pre-deployment training, and visas and tickets have been arranged.  We will deploy December 30.

We be operating in Sierra Leone for several months.  Check back in for pictures and stories from our response.

Friday, December 19, 2014

IMA is now a 501 (c) (3) organization!

International Mutual Aid has received expedited approval by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) organization!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ebola: The Mutiplier Disease

In early November, as only a handful of international medical NGOs responded to the World Health Organization's predictions of exponential Ebola spread in West Africa, a small group of medical professionals in their 30's founded a new nonprofit group to fight the disease.  Follow IMA's story, from conception, through the incorporation/501c3/formation process, to advance team deployment to West Africa and work on Ebola, on my new blog:

Ebola: the Multiplier Disease: Taking out Healthcare Systems

Ebola Heroes: Dr Ameyo Adadevoh

The Doctor who stopped Ebola in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a country of 170 million, 3/4 of whom live on less than $2/day.  Nigeria's health care system was not prepared to handle Ebola, but fortunately the disease was stopped by the clever intervention of one doctor: Dr Ameyo Adadevoh.

In August 2014 an international traveler arrived in Lagos, at a time when all federal hospitals were on a labor strike. He collapsed at the airport, and due to the similarity between the general symptoms caused by Ebola and many other diseases, he was misdiagnosed with malaria by the first doctor he saw.  The following day Dr Adadevoh, who had never seen an Ebola case, suspected EVD and ordered a blood test.  She insisted on keeping the patient isolated, even while under pressure to release him so that he could attend an ECOWAS conference.  The patient's test came back positive for EVD.  There was no functional isolation ward in Nigeria, so Dr Adadevoh created one in her hospital.

Through this surprise exposure to an EVD patient, Dr Adadevoh and several of her coworkers became infected.  Dr Adedevoh succumbed to the disease on 19 August 2014.

Due to her early action, Ebola in Nigeria was halted at 20 cases.

Photo from "Remembering my Aunt, Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, who stopped Ebola in Nigeria"

Ebola Heroes: Foday Gallah

Monrovia Ambulance Driver, Foday Gallah, featured as one of Time's People of the Year: Ebola Fighters: 

"You don't want to know what Ebola feels like. If you're not psychologically strong and God is not on your side you will drop before you are taken for treatment because the pain is too great... I had known I would get it eventually. A lot of great doctors and nurses on the front line have died. They tried to be careful but Ebola still got them. I had carried so many patients in my ambulance and seen so many die in my arms... "

"I was {in the ETU] for two weeks. In the same tent as me in the treatment centre, a two-month-old baby died from the disease. And I lay listening to a lady who cried until she died..I don't know why I survived....I went back to my job, part-time, at the beginning of December...Now, ambulance crews are working 24 hours a day. When people are dying you need to be all over the city. It's hectic, our workload has tripled and we don't have enough ambulances in Monrovia to deal with the disease....Most of my friends now stay away from me because of my job."

Quoted from BBC News "My Fight Against an Invisible Enemy"

Ebola Heroes: The Teenagers of A-LIFE

Even as Ebola raged through the seaside Monrovia slum of West Point, many residents denied the existence of the disease.  In August, dubious crowds broke into a West Point Ebola holding center and "freed" the patients inside.  Many residents believed Ebola did not exist, at least not in West Point, and that perhaps the entire outbreak was a fabrication, made up by agents who wanted to steal funding, harvest organs, or conduct experiments on humans.

But on Sept 17, a group of 200 teenage girls, and some boys, marched through the tight streets of West Point, promoting Ebola education through song.  This was the official start of A-LIFE: Adolescents Leading an Intense Fight Against Ebola.  This drive for public education, the name, and the organizing of A-LIFE was all done by Liberian girls age 16-19.   The girls of Liberia, a country with extremely high rates of sexual violence, are no strangers to hardship.  Yet in West Point, they were leading public education efforts.

After learning of the girls' efforts, local UNICEF leaders provided them with safety education and basic PPE.  It is likely that ongoing public education efforts such as this are responsible for the dramatic decline of Ebola cases in Liberia.

Well done, A-LIFE members!

Photos from UNICEF,

Ebola Heroes: Gordon Kamara

During the peak of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, when ETUs ran out of space and patients died outside, waiting for beds, Gordon Kamara continued his work as an Ambulance Nurse in Monrovia.  He worked on one of only 15 or so ambulances covering a city of ~1 million during a public health emergency.  At times he arrived at the ETU with a patient, only to be turned away because there were no beds available.

Mr Kamara also worked as a combat medic during the long Liberian civil war.  "“It is nothing compared to this, The bullets you can get away from. Ebola is hidden within our own families.”

Mr Kamara has isolated himself from his family for their protection.  “It’s a very lonely virus... Not just for me, but for the entire country. We are all together, but all alone.”

Quotes and picture from NYTimes "Ambulance Work in Liberia is a Busy and Lonely Business"

Ebola Heroes: Dr Martin Salia

Dr Martin Salia died on 17 November in isolation at the Nebraska Medical center.
Dr Salia was one of only 5 or 6 surgeons in the entire country of Sierra Leone. His wife and 2 children are US citizens, but instead of pursuing a lucrative private surgical career, Dr Salia returned to Sierra Leone to help his country. He worked long hours as surgeon and chief medical officer at Kissy Hospital in Freetown. He spent his free time putting in additional surgical time at the Connaught Hospital and Davidson Nicol Hospital in Freetown and lecturing at the University of Sierra Leone medical school. He only saw his family in Maryland a few times a year.

Had Dr Salia successfully pursued US citizenship instead of returning to his native country to assist people there, he would not have been exposed to Ebola.  Had he stopped treating patients, as many of his compatriots have, he might not have contracted Ebola.  Had Dr Salia been a US clinician volunteering with an international NGO, he might not have detected his own infection earlier, but he would have had a clearer medevac path, and his widow would not be left with a $200,000 medevac bill.

Here's to the surgeon who stayed, in the face of a disease that tears apart families and turns communities and nations against those who should be loved and remembered as heroes.

Pre-Deployment Training at the CDC

Our first group of volunteer clinicians completes pre-deployment training for Clinicians Responding to West Africa, at the CDC.

Sending Clinicians to Treat Ebola Patients: Risks and Benefits

In an October 24th analysis, the New York Times reports that MSF has sent 700 doctors and aid workers from around the world to Ebola-stricken countries.  Of these 700, 3 have been infected with Ebola.  This means that each of those 700 volunteers had a chance of infection of 0.4%.  All three infected MSF expat clinicians recovered.  In fact, the death rate amongst EVD patients who have received Early, comprehensive supportive care in the developed world is near zero.  MSF has not been prompted by the risks involved to abandon their patients in West Africa, and we feel that this is the right decision.  Per the example of MSF, IMA will be seeking to better understand how transmission is occurring, and will be taking every possible measure to insure the safety of our clinic workers.

Allowing Ebola to become a permanent endemic disease in West Africa would create a much greater risk and expense than sending expat clinicians over to work in ETUs does.  If Ebola becomes endemic, hospitals in each affected country will have to consider every patient presenting with general illness will be a potential Ebola case- forever.  Initial triage/treatment of each of these cases would expose a number of unprotected clinicians to potential infection.  In West African settings, where many clinicians cannot even afford to use Basic Precautions PPE, this would make providing basic healthcare either horribly dangerous, or impossibly expensive.  In the US, any patient traveling from West Africa, with general illness symptoms, would have to be treated as an EVD patient until proven otherwise- forever.  To give some insight into the costs this would create: 1 MSF-style suit of PPE costs ~$80 and can only be used once.  This $80 does not include the PAPR recommended by the American Nurses Association.  Every ambulance, clinic, and hospital with potential for coming in contact with an EVD patient would have to keep unexpired stocks of this equipment on hand, and donning this PPE is only the first step in the isolation/treatment process. Imagine all the funding that would be pulled away from other medical programs, just by this PPE requirement.

If the current EVD wildfire in West Africa is not extinguished, but instead is only banked down to a slow endemic smolder, there will always be a threat of a spark traveling to a transit center in a large developing country.  Imagine Ebola in the slums of Rio, Mumbai, Lagos, or Jakarta.   Airport detection measures are notoriously unreliable, and there will not always be a clever Dr Adadevoh to provide an early, correct interpretation of the vague symptoms of Ebola.

The West African Ebola Epidemic is the first great epidemic of the Age of Globalization.  It is safe to assume it will not be the last, nor the most frightening.  It is safe to assume that not every epidemic will occur so far away from America.  The International Community's response to this public health emergency will set the precedent for future responses.  In the history book of the future, will our children read that we acted with courage and compassion, and sent in teams to treat patients?  Or will they read that we stood back, full of fear and indifference, and watched as a country collapsed and a new deadly disease became endemic?

Ebola: The Multiplier Disease: Taking Out Healthcare Systems

Ebola is a disease of poverty, but it is different from other diseases of poverty such as cholera and lassa fever for one important reason: Ebola takes out healthcare systems.  Millions of deaths occur every year from various diseases of poverty, but these do not make the news the way EVD does.  This is because a single cholera patient does not have the potential to shut down an entire clinic.  5000 people die per year of Lassa fever in the same area that is now affected by Ebola.  However, those 5000 Lassa deaths do not shut down an entire nations' schools and hospitals; 5000 Ebola deaths did.  
Ebola deaths have a multiplier effect.  Every Ebola death indirectly leads to dozens of deaths from unrelated conditions that go untreated due to hospital closures.  As vaccination programs are suspended, each Ebola death leads to dozens of deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses.  As markets, schools, and developmental programs are closed, each Ebola death leads to lost opportunities, general weakening of systems,an increase in the potential for political instability, and food shortages.

Why Should the United States Feel a Duty to Help West Africa Fight Ebola?

Most people think of America as the antithesis of a colonial power.  But in fact we did have a sort of colony in Africa.  During the mid-19th century, the American Colonization Society moved ~13,000 American settlers to a colony on the  Liberian coast.  This effort was publicly supported by American political giants such as Abraham Lincoln, James Monroe, and Henry Clay, and it received public federal funding.  The colony site was scouted out by a US Naval Vessel, the colony organized itself under US Laws, and it adopted a Constitution based on that of the US.  Today an estimated 5% of the Liberian population is descended from settlers that came from America.  This is why you hear place names in Liberia such as Monrovia (named after President Monroe), Maryland County, Buchanan, and the JFK Medical Center.  If any independent country in the world has strong enough ties with the US to hope for assistance during an emergency, that country is Liberia.

Ebola has historically occurred in very rare, self-limiting outbreaks, mostly in rural villages  in Central Africa.  A key difference in the currrent Ebola epidemic is that it is spreading in crowded, poor, urban areas.  The conditions that are present in Liberia are mirrored in many, many other poor urban areas in Africa, Asia, South and Central America.  At the current caseload of 18,000 - 40,000, Ebola has already spilled out of Guinea, to Sierra Leone and Liberia, and thence in limited quantities to Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, the US, and Mali.  During the early phase of the epidemic, unimpeded by effective international intervention, the disease spread exponentially.  In Sept WHO reported that since May 2014, the number of new cases of Ebola has been doubling every 20-30 days.  In September the CDC put out a worst-case scenario projection of 1.4 million cases by January. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IMA Fundraising Campaign on Indiegogo

Help Send IMA's Medical Team to West Africa - our Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign is Live!

International Mutual Aid is a Maryland nonprofit, founded in response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (EIN # 47-2251946).
Please help us publicize our organization and fundraise by visiting our kickoff campaign on Indiegogo at    There, you can view our video, read about our organization, donate funds, and share our campaign using Share Tools for Facebook, Twitter, and Email.

So far, we have raised 27% of our goal of $20,000 during the first 24 hrs after launch.  Please act as an Ambassador for IMA - share our campaign and help us reach our goal!

IMA's website is

Help us stop Ebola!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

International Mutual Aid, founded to provide direct patient care in West Africa

Hi all, haven't been here in a few years, I'm surprised how much the page views have jumped.  Glad you all enjoyed this blog/found it useful.

My travels in the south have been put on home and I am here in the US again, becoming inextricably caught up in the crisis response to West Africa. 

On to the next:

As many visitors here know from first-hand experience, the world has become increasingly integrated and globalized.  Some of you may have been affected in your work and travels by trans-border issues from piracy and conflict to diseases such as Swine Flu and MERS.

Now we are in the midst of the first great epidemic of the Age of Globalization.  As of 29 Oct 2014, the World Health Organization has a reported Ebola case total of 13,567.  WHO estimates that if unreported cases are taken into account, the total cases may be closer to 25,000.  Ebola has an average 70% death rate during the current epidemic.

The Ebola epidemic has caused nearly all medical NGOs to pull out of the three affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  In Liberia, even the local health care system that used to handle routine illnesses has collapsed.  For the first time in its history, the US very nearly saw a legal precedent set for forcible quarantine of a healthy individual.  Proponents of forcible quarantine openly admitted this measure was based not on science, but on public fear.  For those of you who are away from home, the popular response in the US is well summarized in the decision by Maine Judge Charles LaVerdiere, who struck down the forcible quarantine of Kaci Hickox: "The court is fully aware of the misconceptions, misinformation, bad science and bad information being spread from shore to shore in our country with respect to Ebola,” the judge said. “The court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational. However, whether that fear is rational or not, it is present and it is real."

I feel it's safe to assume that this will not be the last, nor the greatest health challenge posed by the Age of Globalization.  At present our response to this epidemic, both emotional and material, does not bode well for future crisis response.  

One primary response component currently lacking, which very few organizations have stepped up to offer, are trained medical personnel willing to treat patients in West Africa.

This is why I have joined with a group of emergency medical professionals to found International Mutual Aid.  IMA is a nonprofit NGO which be sending a group of medical professionals to operate a clinic and provide direct patient care in Liberia.  IMA is coordinating with the Liberian govt, on-the-ground NGOs such as Project Cure and PIH, and WHO to tailer our response to current needs.  Our fundraising campaign begins Nov 4 and we aim to have an advance team on the ground in November.

IMA is a small, flexible organization.  It was founded with the express purpose of advocating for patients and providing a courageous, humane response to this international public health crisis.  Much of the funding that we raise will be matched by larger NGOs who are providing supplies and logistical support.  If you donate to IMA, not only will your dollars make a direct impact on the amount of patient care available in Liberia, they will do so through a multiplier effect.  We will remain in Liberia to assist in rebuilding the local healthcare system after the epidemic peaks and wanes.

Please help us to stop Ebola!  Help us take action in the face of fear.  Every donation is a step closer.


Our fundraising campaign will commence on Nov 4.  To increase visibility, we will kick off with an Indiegogo crowdfunding action, then move to direct individual and corporate donations.

Thank you,
Virginia Price, Board of Directors, International Mutual Aid