CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Saah Kanda moved to Charlotte from Liberia 15 years ago. Just four months ago, he had 10 relatives living back in rural village; today, just three remain.
"Seven out of ten died," said Kanda, "all from the Ebola infection."
Kanda said it all started when his pregnant sister-in-law became ill. Soon, his brother and two nephews were also infected with Ebola. He tried to tell the rest of his family, especially his mother, not to touch the relatives with the virus.
"She said 'I have to take care of my son'. I told mama don't touch him, but she said 'If you were here you would touch him.' She became very sick in her body," recalled Kanda.
He believes that lack of education and traditional culture play significant roles in the explosion of Ebola in West Africa.
"Our people have cultures and traditions. They respect those cultures and traditions, and for my people, my family, I believe those cultures drove them into their graves," explained Kanda, as he detailed burial rituals and other traditions that put Liberians at risk for contracting the deadly virus.
But the Charlotte man also put much of the blame on the Liberian government, saying "they are putting politics into the information, so the people didn't respect or trust the information".
Officially, Ebola has claimed the lives of nearly 1000 people in West Africa, though the actual number of victims is likely far greater. Experts have called it the worst outbreak in history. For Saah Kanda, it has changed his life forever, and he wants others to understand how serious the situation is in Liberia.
"If I show you my mother's grave, then I show you my sister's grave, and my brother's grave, and I show you my cousin's grave and my nephews' graves. Then you would believe this is real. I would show you seven graves in a row."
Kanda is hopeful the people of the country he's called home for nearly two decades will reach out to his home country.
"If I had the support from anybody," Kanda said as he choked back tears, "I would go in and help."