Critically needed SIM doctors head to Ebola--stricken West Africa in advance of International Volunteer Day

In advance of International Volunteer Day Dec. 5, two SIM USA physicians - one a long-term veteran and the second a new, short-term volunteer - are headed to Ebola-stricken West Africa and say in light of the healthcare crisis in the region there is a growing need for volunteers.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985, International Volunteer Day celebrates volunteerism around the globe.

Having served in nations around the world, Dr. Dan Crawford is headed to West Africa for the first time with SIM International.

"We feel like we are well prepared," said Crawford. "You can't be completely prepared until you are there, but we don't really feel any great anxiety about the disease itself. We know we are in God's hands wherever we are and there are dangers wherever you work. There is, however, anxiety about going to a new place."

For 15 years, Crawford volunteered at a low-cost clinic in Portland monthly and currently takes mission trips with his church to India and Lebanon each year.

Dr. Crawford and his wife Kathy will serve SIM’s ELWA Hospital in Liberia – an area of the world that faces a significant health crisis.

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"I'm actually retired now and our children are grown," Crawford added. "I think that you have to feel its what God is leading you to do and act on it. Don't feel like there is any reason not to go, but you are in God's hands and leading you to do it."

Dr. John Fankhauser, 52, from Ventura, Calif., is also heading to Liberia. He was practicing family medicine at SIM's ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when the Ebola epidemic began there earlier this year.

Since the outbreak, he has served two medical tours in the country. He treated many patients, including SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan's Purse. He also cared for SIM doctor Rick Sacra in Liberia after he was diagnosed with Ebola and assumed Sacra's duties there when Sacra returned to the U.S. for treatment. Fankhauser has personally experienced quarantine twice.