Sierra Leoneans celebrated in the streets last month when 42 days passed without a single new case of Ebola. The mix of mourning and jubilation called to mind the signing of a peace treaty after a war, and the end of Ebola should indeed be greeted as a victory.
We face tremendous problems keeping girls in school as they transition through adolescence. In Sierra Leone, 30 per cent of reported rapes take place in the school environment, and a recent ruling banned 'visibly pregnant' girls from school. When the school itself becomes a hostile setting, it should come as no surprise that dropout rates shoot up.
What comes to your mind when you think about innovation? Most of us relate innovation to places like Silicon Valley. However, there are incredible social innovations happening in the global South; starting from Sudanese villages to Afghan classrooms and in many other not-so-known places, where you least expect anything related to innovation.
“My name is Salimatu, I am 20 years old and an ELA member of the Kukubana club in Rokupr. I really do not know how I contracted the virus. One day, my aunt saw that I was bleeding, and I had a high fever. Knowing too well these are symptoms of the disease, she called the Ebola hotline (117) and they arrived later with an ambulance. I was taken to the Lakka treatment centre where I stayed for three weeks.
Friends and supporters have reached out to BRAC with concern and support. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, we have 907 full-time staff, and about as many self-employed community health promoters. Our staff is safe, though sadly, some of our microfinance clients are among the more than 1,000 who have died.
I wrote last week about the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa and what can be done to stop it. Thanks in part to help from supporters in North America, including the actor Jeffrey Wright, BRAC USA has responded with emergency funding to BRAC Sierra Leone to contain the crisis.
Fears are rising in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea that the deadly Ebola virus is spreading out of control. I spoke to Tapan Karmakar, country representative of BRAC Sierra Leone. “People are now afraid,” he told me. Additional funding is needed for community health workers to reach remote areas.
After the mass destruction during the civil war in Sierra Leone, I had a desire to give back to my country and help in nation building. Starting off as a child activist for Search for Common Ground, I have represented the vulnerable war-affected children of Sierra Leone both nationally and internationally, ensuring that their voices are heard and attended to. Working in development was always my utmost desire.
Over the past 40 years, BRAC has grown from a small relief organization into the world’s largest NGO. Yet despite this scale, BRAC is always looking for new ways to improve its programs for the 135 million people it serves around the world. One such way is to ensure that BRAC International’s country programs are filled with qualified and capable local individuals with first-hand knowledge of the community landscape and local culture.
In the village of Waterloo, two hours outside of central Freetown, Sierra Leone, I recently met with poultry rearers, participating in BRAC’s backyard poultry and kitchen garden project in partnership with the UK aid organization, DFID.
This week, The New York Times published an article, “Africa Holds Worst Rates for First-Day Baby Deaths, Report Says.” I silently groaned, thinking that Africa is often unfairly singled out as a poverty stricken, dismal place. These headlines bother me for the mere fact that there are not enough headlines highlighting the qualities that make the continent far from dismal.