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.

 

 

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

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

Fambul Tok Intensifies Hand Washing Campaign to Prevent Ebola

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sanitised soap prepared by Peace mothers in Pujehun

Sanitised soap prepared by Peace Mothers in Pujehun

On Tuesday October 21, 2014, Fambul Tok International – Sierra Leone launched a campaign to wash hands frequently with soap and water to avoid catching ebola. With support from the US Embassy in Sierra Leone, Fambul Tok’s hand washing campaign will motivate and mobilize thousands of people in the country to wash their hands with soap and clean water frequently as a key approach to disease prevention.

Formally launching the campaign, Chairman of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (WASHNET), Musa Ansumana Soko says from a citizen’s perspective, the debate is no longer centered on the late and inadequate response from government. Rather the discussion is now a call for joint actions that will create and enhance a healthier Sierra Leone. He says hand washing and safer hygiene practices are key in reversing the current trend, adding that the intervention of Fambul Tok, especially through Peace Mothers programs, will go a long way in reversing the current health emergency.

 John launching the campaign-right is Soko(chairman for the program)

John Caulker launching the campaign–t0 his right is Soko (chairman for the program)

The Executive Director of Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone, John Caulker highlighted several interventions of Fambul Tok since the outbreak of the ebola disease. Cualker hightlighted the pivotal actions through radio programs, jingles and community mobilization in an effort to complement the government in the fight against ebola.

Caulker said the ebola outbreak is an attack on family households and that it is destroying family members, communities, and eventually our beloved nation. He emphasizes that the introduction of frequent and  proper hand washing with soap and water as part of  community safer hygiene practice will help us collectively fight and defeat ebola in the country.

The Director mentioned meetings with district stakeholders in Kailahun, Kono and Koinadugu, stating that the meetings paved the way for a robust door to door and word of mouth sensitization on the signs and symptoms and what to do when someone is suspected of ebola. The campaign, he went on, targets about 25,000 households per district in all six districts, bringing the total to 150,000 households. Caulker adds that Fambul Tok welcomes invitation to collaborate with other organizations outside Fambul Tok’s operational areas.

Peace Mothers making soap for Ebola prevention campaign

Peace Mothers making soap for ebola prevention campaign

The Director of the Peace Mothers, Micheala Ashwood says as rural women stand to suffer most during these difficult times, Fambul Tok is pleased to see these women take the lead in the fight against ebola in their communities. She says the soap, T-shirt and posters will help rural women send consistent messages in the fight against ebola in line with government and WHO’s recommendations of sending consistent messages during community  mobilization.

As part of the campaign, each house in the Fambul Tok operational districts will receive a package of soap and posters. In addition, a megaphone and ten T-shirts will be given to community stakeholders at sectional level. Peace Mothers from each community will lead in distributing soap and in using the other materials to educate all community members on ebola prevention, focusing on frequent and proper hand washing.

One of the peace mothers in Kongbora chiefdom, Moyamba district, Abie Deen has this to say: “during the war women suffered most and now ebola, it is the women who are suffering most, we have to save our husbands and children. We are going to take the lead in the hand washing campaign. It is our responsibility to save our community from ebola.”

Another Peace Mother from Kpanga Krim chiefdom, Pujehun district, Princess Gbonda says, “we Peace Mothers are producing all the sanitized soap locally here in Bayama village in Pemagbi section. We thank Fambul Tok and the US Embassy for supporting women to take the lead in the hand washing campaign.”

Peace mothers display some of the items

Peace Mothers display some of the items

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

Press Release: Fambul Tok’s new Ebola prevention campaign

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PRESS RELEASE - October 21st – Fambul Tok International – Sierra Leone
“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to avoid Ebola”

Fambul Tok International – Sierra Leone, today October 21st launches a Campaign: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to avoid Ebola.

Act against Ebola poster

Act against Ebola poster

Fambul Tok’s Peace Mothers are leading in every aspect of the campaign. In launching the campaign the Director of Peace Mothers – Micheala Ashwood said “Rural women stand to suffer most during these difficult times in the history of our country, therefore I am pleased to see these women take the lead in the fight against Ebola in their communities.  The soap, t-shirt and posters will help rural women send consistent messages in the fight against Ebola in line with Government and WHO’s recommendation of sending consistent message during community mobilization”

As part of the campaign each house in our operational districts will receive a package of soap and posters.  In addition to this a megaphone and ten (10) t-shirts for community stakeholders will be distributed at the sectional level in each of our operational districts.  Peace Mothers from each community will lead in distributing soap and in using the other materials to educate all community members on Ebola prevention through frequent and proper hand washing.

During the community pilot programme over the weekend in Moyamba district a member of the Peace Mothers in Kombora chiefdom, Gibina section, Abie Deen said “During the war women suffered most and now Ebola again it is the women who are suffering most, we have to save our husbands and children. We are going to take the lead in the hand washing campaign.  It is our responsibility to save our community against Ebola”

Even the making of the soap itself will be strengthening rural women.  Peace Mothers chairlady, Madam Princess Gbonda says – ‘ We Peace Mothers are producing all the sanitized soap locally here in Bayama Village in Pemagbi section, Kpanga Krim, Pujehun district. We thank Fambul Tok and the US Embassy for supporting women to take the lead in the hand washing campaign.”

Peace Mothers making soap for Ebola prevention campaign

Peace Mothers making soap for Ebola prevention campaign

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network  (WASHNET) Chairman, Musa Ansumana Soko who chaired the meeting in his statement said; “from Civil Society and Non-State Actors’ perspective, the debate is no longer centered on the late and inadequate response from our government, but rather a call for joint actions that will create and enhance a healthier Sierra Leone.

Hand washing and safer hygiene practices are key in reversing the current trends and that the intervention of Fambul Tok through its Peace Mothers’ program will go a long way in complementing Government and other stakeholders effort during this health Emergency”

“The Ebola outbreak is an attack on family wholeness, that is destroying  families, communities and eventually our beloved nation.  However frequent hand wash using  soap and water as part of community safer hygiene practice, will help us collectively fight and defeat Ebola out of Sierra Leone,” John Caulker Executive Director Fambul Tok International –SL concluded.

Since the start of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone Fambul Tok International –SL, has been in the forefront as part of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) efforts towards the fight against Ebola. A district stakeholders meeting was held in Kailahun in June, followed with chiefdom sensitization meetings in Kailahun, Kono  and later Koinadugu.  The stakeholders meetings paved the way for a robust door-to-door and word of mouth sensitization on signs and symptoms of Ebola and what to do when some one is suspected of Ebola. This initiative is led by our vibrant Peace Mothers in all six operational districts- Kailahun, Kono, Moyamba, Pujehun, Bombalie and Koinadugu.

The campaign targets about 25,000 households per district in all six districts bringing the total to 150,000 households. Fambul Tok welcomes any invitation to collaborate with other organisations outside of our operational areas.

For further information please contact info@fambultok.org.

Posted in From the Ground: Program Updates from Sierra Leone, In the News, Organization, Peace Mothers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In Ebola response, let’s also think LONG TERM and LOCAL

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As the Ebola crisis has unfolded in Sierra Leone (and West Africa, and beyond), the pull to the urgent is strong.  And rightfully so – everyone wants to act swiftly and effectively to stop the spread of the disease, as well as to provide healing care for all those impacted.  The Fambul Tok staff is no exception to that pull to the urgent – they have added a significant Ebola education/prevention component to their work, as you’ve read about in other posts on this blog.  And as do so many of us, they yearn to do more.

And yet, even while the international community works hard to respond in all the ways it can to the urgency of the need, it is critical – now more than ever – to continue to think and act long term.  And even while many are looking for large scale solutions (which we typically do by looking to large entities external to the area in crisis, whether it’s bringing the US military to Liberia, for example, or looking for more, or more effective, action from international organizations like the WHO), it is critical to think ‘small’ and act local. 

The resources that often get overlooked in any crisis are in fact the smallest ‘entities’ and those closest to the crisis itself – ordinary people and local communities.  And yet, as we have seen powerfully with Fambul Tok, when the people most impacted by a crisis not only fully participate but actually LEAD in addressing that crisis it can be hugely transformative – for individuals, communities, and beyond.

But what does it take for the people most impacted by a crisis to actually lead in the work of rebuilding after (or perhaps even during) that crisis? As we have seen with Fambul Tok, first it takes a recognition that they can, supported by a long term vision and commitment to (re)build robust, localized networks of support – aka strong communities.

The small and local becomes big in its impact when it’s nurtured over time (the long term), and supported by processes and structures that connect, support, and magnify.  Since it began working in its first village over 6 years ago, Fambul Tok’s reach has expanded to close to 2500 villages today.

FT How It Works flowchart jpg

Fambul Tok’s process in the districts

Since 2008, Fambul Tok has been patiently doing the work of helping create healthy and strong communities in rural Sierra Leone. This is the ‘container’ that held (and continues to hold) Fambul Tok’s reconciliation process, making it safe for people to come forward and tell their stories of what they did or what happened to them in the war. It is the ‘container’ that allowed victims and perpetrators in the war to apologize and to forgive, even for some of the most egregious atrocities. And it is the ‘container’ that enabled communities to begin to move forward – together.

And as a result, as any of the posts on this blog will attest, Fambul Tok communities are now engaging in development projects that are bringing needed income to their residents. They are tackling social and political problems like teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. They are addressing new conflicts that emerge and not needing to take so many to the police or the traditional authorities.  They are beginning to build and strengthen educational infrastructure. They are empowering women to lead.

The need for a long term approach emphasizing relationship- and community-rebuilding, done in a way which honors local capacity, doesn’t diminish in the face of a crisis like Ebola. In fact, it deepens.

There is a lot of talk now about the need for establishing better health care systems in Sierra Leone. “But if the communities are not working together,” says Fambul Tok Executive Director John Caulker, “The health systems won’t work. They won’t be sustained.”

This is true whatever the social goal is, he notes, whether it’s health, justice, empowerment for women, or child welfare.  “Only in a healthy community can these other systems thrive.  Otherwise it is like pouring water into a cracked bowl. Healthy community is needed to sustain the process.  This will be the challenge we will face as a nation moving forward.”

Preparing for post-Ebola community health needs to be happening NOW, and it looks much like the work that Fambul Tok is already doing to help communities heal after the devastating decade of war.

Even as we feel the call of the urgent, let’s have the vision, courage and commitment to also go long, and go local.

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