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.
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.
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.”