Peace Mothers Intensify Campaign to Keep Libeisaygahun Chiefdom Ebola-Free

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Surrounded by a number of ebola affected chiefdoms, Libeisaygahun is the only chiefdom that is yet to record a single case of ebola.

How did one chiefdom, surrounded by other communities with ebola outbreaks, manage to remain ebola-free?  Fambul Tok Peace Mothers have been working in collaboration with community members to compliment the national effort to eradicate ebola disease in the country by engaging in house-to-house visits to educate (sensitize) community members.

sensitization in progress

sensitization, or awareness raising, in progress

Ella Sesay, the chairwoman of Peace Mothers in Batkanu section, explained the efforts of the community and the Fambul Tok Peace Mothers.  She said before the outbreak of the disease sick people were taken to the chiefdom headquarters town of Batkanu for proper health care.  When the surrounding chiefdoms were affected by ebola, the Peace Mothers, in collaboration with other stakeholders, quickly mobilized local resources and deployed youths in different locations across the chiefdom to monitor movements of people, including reporting any case of sickness.

Madam Sesay explained that with the provision of soap, posters, T-shirts, megaphones and other informational materials donated by Fambul Tok, they were able to visit several villages to sensitize community members on how to protect themselves from contracting the ebola virus through simple hand washing techniques.  Each household was provided with a pack of soap and posters.  Hand washing and other precautionary measures continue to help community members not to contract the disease, thus not a single case of ebola has been reported in the chiefdom.

Madam Sesay strongly encourages people to observe basic health rules to protect them from ebola and other infectious diseases.

 

Posted in Bombali District, From the Ground: Program Updates from Sierra Leone, Peace Mothers, Recognition | Tagged | Leave a comment

Glimmer of Economic Growth Despite Ebola Crisis

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All is not lost in the midst of ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.  Fambul Tok Peace Mothers from Masabong section, Paki Masabong chiefdom in Bombali district is one of hundreds of Peace Mothers’ groups that is proving this to the world.

Despite the outbreak of the ebola disease in the country, coupled with restrictions on movement and community by-laws, Peace Mothers in that part of the country stood firm to ensure that their micro revolving loan program, spanning across fourteen villages, would continue to operate.

Aware of the restrictions on movement of people from one village to the other and of restrictions on public gatherings, the Peace Mother’s were forced to strategize on how to collect their monthly contributions. They appointed trustees among them that go around to collect contributions and re-deploy cash to all members in the fourteen villages. This solution made collection easier and cost effective.

“In the midst of ebola, we were able to do our activities,” says Adama Lakkoh, the chairwoman of the group.  She added that even though the disease affects the country direct and indirectly, they worked together and were able to accumulate a sum of Le23 million (approximately $5,300) as seed money from and for the loan program.

She continued, “We have also collected six bags of rice as proceeds from the rice mill and we are very much appreciative to the US State department in Sierra Leone for providing the funds through Fambul Tok.”

Rice mill serves as livelihood project for peace mothers

Rice mill serves as livelihood project for peace mothers

 

Posted in Bombali District, From the Ground: Program Updates from Sierra Leone, Peace Mothers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bridging Communities Network: Facilitating a Community-led Response to the Ebola Crisis

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As a complement to the government-led efforts in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, Fambul Tok-International, in partnership with nine National NGOs and over 30 community based organizations,  has formed the Bridging Communities Network (BCN) to facilitate a community-led response to the Ebola situation in the country.

Participants in Bombali district

Participants in Bombali district

The network will  coordinate at national, district, and community levels to meet the urgent need of stopping the spread of the virus. Furthermore, BCN will strengthen citizen and community capacity for crisis resilience for the future.

BCN has started regional consultations in the country to solicit input from organizations and networks with direct presence in communities. BCN seeks broad based consensus building and ownership among network members on issues such as community confidence building,  thrust, engagement, and the facilitation of stakeholder mapping in existing organizations at all levels.

Formally launching BCN consultations in Port Loko district on November 26, 2014, Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone Executive Director said the network was formed to facilitate a community-led response to ebola that is now ravaging the country. Caulker said Sierra Leoneans should start finding solutions to their own problems rather waiting for, or relying on, only external leadership in responding to crises.

John explains BNC concept

John explains BNC concept

Cualker stated that the ten national NGOs in the network will provide leadership in different regions, adding that as civil society groups, they are mobilising to provide collective leadership from within Sierra Leone, based on the understanding that the country’s social capital is their greatest resource. The network will work on not only to stop the spread of ebola, but also how to deal with its long term impact.

The Executive Director went on to state that participants would be drawn from various chiefdoms, so that they could be involved in the process to ensure ownership.

The Executive Director, Ngolo Katta, of the Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), a lead organization in Port Loko, said it is always important to empower communities, because they have answers to their own problems. He said BCN will work with communities to close the communication gap that exist.

Katta lamented over the non-availability of vital information in communities, adding that there are lots of challenges in terms of getting feedback when someone falls ill with Ebola and taken out of the community.

During the meeting, many issues were raised. One of them the lack of access to information for relatives of Ebola victims. Participants were given smart mobile phone with the ability to directly contact the secretariat of the BCN.

Meanwhile consultations have been concluded in Bombali, Koinadugu, and Moyamba districts where participants raised many issues and called for the timely intervention of BCN. Participants were also trained and provided with smart phones for their various chiefdoms. Consultations in other district continue.

Moyamba participants in rapt attention

Moyamba participants in rapt attention

The long term goal of BCN is to create a positive legacy following the current crisis, with permanent and lasting structures in place in communities themselves that support a network of vibrant, healthy, whole communities that are able to to advocate for their needs, facilitate their local development efforts and use outside resources wisely for the benefit of its citizens and communities

The objectives are:

(A) To facilitate civil society participation and engagements in the governance and decision making platforms of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC).

(B) To facilitate and strengthen civil society to engage in Ebola infection prevention and control processes that put people and communities at the centre of the action to control the disease. To identify and mobilise existing community organizations and structures to actively participate in preventing the spread of Ebola

(C) To support communities’ mobilization action efforts in dealing with perceived resistance against Ebola, such as community concerns and trust about prescribed control measures at the community level.

Fambul Tok is catalyzing this initiative through providing the seed funding for its formative phase, housing the initial BCN, and providing the secretariat for the network’s activities. As BCN grows, it will spin off from Fambul Tok as an independent networking organization.

Members of the network include: Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone, Society Learning and Yearning for Equal Opportunities (SLYEO), Advocacy Movement Network AMNET), Community Initiative and Development Organization (CIDO), Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law(CARL), Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), Defense for Children International (DCI), Campaign for Good Governance(CGG) and Media Foundation for Peace and Development.

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Fambul Tok Promotes Local Initiative

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Most people in the rural parts of Sierra Leone are poor and find it very difficult to afford basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and medical facilities. With the outbreak of ebola in the country, these communities are unable to acquire costly materials such as hand sanitizers, disinfectants  and other items to protect them from contracting the deadly ebola virus.

Mr.Jalloh demonstrate the use of the tap

Mr. Jalloh demonstrates the use of the tap

One of the senior community members in Dogoloya section, Folosaba Dembelia chiefdom in Koinadugu district thought of a local initiative to help protect his community against ebola through a safe hand washing method. Mohamed Jalloh erected what he referred to as local tap for hand washing. He used local resources. The tap is made out of used gallon-sized plastic containers with strings tied at the top and side to allow them hang on a tree branch suspended on two poles. The rope at the side of the containers is also tied to a small log used as a pedal to allow a user step on it and for water to be poured from the suspended container through a hole at its side. Soap is also hung adjacent to the containers so that one can easily use it wash hands by stepping on the pedal without touching the containers.

This local and cost effective initiative is promoted by Fambul Tok district staff. Many communities have inculcated the idea and have erected taps for hand washing method. Some communities that have erected the taps include Largo in Folosaba Dembelia chiefdom, Koinadugu and Yiriah sections in Sengbe, Kongbelefeh and Sokurella sections in Diang, and Firawa and Yiffin in Nieni chiefdom where the ebola virus broke out in the Koinadugu district.

Meanwhile the whole Nieni chiefdom has been quarantined.

To complement the efforts of the Sierra Leone government to fight the ebola disease, Fambul Tok through support from US State Department continues to provide locally sanitized soap, t-shirts and posters for community sensitization on frequent hand washing campaign.

hand washing tap

Hand washing tap

Blog post written and prepared by the Fambul Tok Koinadugu District Team.

 

 

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John Caulker’s TV interview on community led Ebola response efforts

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JC on Newsmax 11-13-14In this powerful 2-part interview on NewsMaxTV, John Caulker identifies the missing dimension in Ebola response in Sierra Leone – mobilizing communities and ordinary people to lead. He talks about the leadership role rural women are taking in sensitizing their communities now, and the need for more channels to support that important role.

John argues eloquently for external aid to do more than just focus on treating the virus, but for it to also support LONG TERM community strengthening. This would help mobilize trust in communities now (the needed ingredient for preventing the spread of the virus), and also leave the country better prepared for the next challenge. Watch both parts of the segment here: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsmax-Tv/Sierra-Leone-Ebola-John-Caulker-MidPoint/2014/11/12/id/606957/

Posted in Ebola response, From the Ground: Program Updates from Sierra Leone, In the News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment