March 23, 2015
Rehabilitation and Development Agency Sierra Leone (RADA-SL), an organisation working as one of the social mobilization pillars in the fight against Ebola in the country, with support from Christian Aid, has trained over 50 young-adult Ebola survivors on championing Ebola sensitization in six chiefdoms in the Bo District – Kakua, Bumpe, Gbo, Wonde, Tikonko and Nyawalenga.
The training primarily targeted social mobilization drive with focus on community engagement, using a tool referred to as “People’s First Impact Methodology”. The tool was introduced by the UK Ebola Team in Sierra Leone during a training of trainers workshop organized for social mobilization pillars of which RADA-SL was among the beneficiaries. The organisation is now replicating the tool to social mobilizers at community level, targeting young-adult Ebola survivors.
“It would be recalled that previous social mobilization approaches were pioneered by non-Ebola persons, which made some meaningful impact. But it is expected that with a new strategy of placing victims/survivors of the disease to champion the social mobilization drive on Ebola response, more will be achieved backed by high level of acceptance.
It is against this backdrop that RADA-SL has trained over 50 young Ebola survivors to be the lieutenants and vehicle for change as the country strives towards achieving zero infection rate and completely eradicating Ebola, said the Program Manager of RADA-SL, Ann Sesay at a press conference after the training on Monday 16th March in Bo.
She further underpinned the need to maintain zero Ebola infection rate, intensive community led initiatives to curb Ebola, and deep reflection on the impact of the disease as leading factors for the training.
The newly trained social mobilizers (Ebola survivors) have now had a change of roles from being recipients of charity to campaign mobilizers and thus active players in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone in general and in Bo District in particular.
As part of their newly defined responsibilities, the Ebola survivors/mobilizers are expected to target local rulers, youth groups, prominent community heads, secret society heads, and relevant decision makers. The campaign messages will not be different from the normal Ebola response, including: avoid body contact, report early for treatment, and avoid community burial, etc. Other aspects of health information which are technical will be carried out in conjunction with health experts.
Mohamed Swarray, an Ebola survivor and one of the trainees, described the initiative by RADA-SL to organize the training as a prudent one, noting that they as Ebola survivors have experienced the devastating nature of the Ebola virus and could be in a better position to propagate the true message about Ebola.
He was optimistic that the public will listen to them and better understand the Ebola messages especially when they are coming from the survivors themselves. He expressed their readiness to champion the campaign against Ebola and to eventually see it eradicated from the country.