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Psycho Social support for Ebola victims

by IsraAID
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Psycho Social support for Ebola victims
Mariama
Mariama

MEET THE FREETOWN FIRST RESPONDERS

The Freetown First Responders is a group of 30 young people from communities affected by last year’s mudslides in Sierra Leone, which claimed the lives of hundreds in August 2017. The floods came just as Sierra Leone was beginning to recover from the 2014-2016 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. Now, these 30 leaders undergo training with IsraAID staff on Disaster Risk Reduction and Psychosocial support, to bolster resilience and lead their communities should a disaster occur in the future.

Mariama has lived in Kaningo for over 11 years, where she worked with the medical personnel in the camp. “The sanitary situation was terrible at the camp, and that made me scared.” She takes pride in her service to the community, and one day hopes to become a nurse. “Training with the Freetown First Responders has built my confidence and my self-worth,” says Mariama. “The information we’ve acquired is both for personal use and also for the benefit of the community. I look forward to greater opportunities to serve my country.”

Mohamed hopes to one day become a social worker. “Social work is about caring for the welfare of clients, creating links and access to services; this program sets the platform,” says Mohamed about Freetown First Responders. Mohamed adds that the program gave him a feeling of satisfaction by imparting young people with skills in psychosocial support, emergency response, and their individual roles, responsibilities, and limitations in serving their community. “IsraAID has provided me with the needed platform to realize and fulfill my true potential.”

During the mudslides, Joe headed the mobilization, rescue, and evacuation teams. “Working during the mudslides was the most horrifying experience of my life,” says Joe. “The good thing was that youth from the community volunteered and gave their time, energy, and resources to the cause.” After the mudslides, Joe worked with the government and NGOs to establish a camp for survivors. Following the initial panic, Joe began to struggle with his mental health and turned to alcohol. Today, he credits community service with helping him overcome this dependency. “I have learnt that it is good to help, but also to create links with other service providers and connect people with any expertise they need."

Thank you for your ongoing support, which helps us amplify our reach through these inspiring community leaders!

Mohamed
Mohamed
Joe
Joe

Sierra Leone was hit hard by the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis, with over 14,000 cases resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths, and a profound effect on the psychological wellbeing of survivors, their families and their communities. In August 2017, just a year after the country was declared Ebola-free, Freetown was hit by heavy rainfall, leading to massive flooding and mudslides. 6,000 people were affected, with over 1,100 reported either dead or missing. The worst affected were from some of the same vulnerable communities, who had been greatly affected by both the Ebola outbreak.

In order to build the strength and resiliency of these communities, IsraAID Sierra Leone has selected a group of 30 young leaders, aged 18-28, for training in providing psychosocial support in emergencies and reducing the risk of disasters in their communities as part of the new Freetown First Responders program. The group began their training program in July.

The participants come from Kamayama and Kaningo in Freetown, which were hit hard by last year's flooding and mudslides, and are learning the tools and skills need to strengthen community resilience ahead of the rainy season, with its potential for repeated flooding and disaster.

The Freetown First Responders will share their knowledge with their communities, training further young people, and assess both the physical and mental health needs of their communities. The Freetown First Responders program is supported by community leadership, ensuring that the newly trained young people are empowered to use their skills to help build strong, resilient communities.

Thank you for your generous support, which makes this possible! More updates to follow ...

The 2014-2016 Ebola crisis had a devastating impact in Sierra Leone, with over 14,000 cases causing nearly 4,000 deaths, and a massive psychological and social effect on the survivors, their families and their communities. Barely a year after the end of the Ebola outbreak, in August 2017, Freetown in Sierra Leone was hit by devastating flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rainfall. 6,000 people were affected, with over 1,100 reported either dead or missing. The worst affected were some of Sierra Leone’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities, who had been greatly affected by both the Ebola outbreak and frequent flooding.

In the coming months, IsraAID – together with partners Restless Development and the Sierra Leone Office of National Security – will select a group of 25 young leaders, aged 18-28, to be trained in how to reduce the risk of future disasters and provide psychological first aid and support. This will enable trainees to lead their communities’ responses to potential future emergencies. 

The program will focus on the communities of Kamayama and Kaningo in Freetown. Community leaders will support the process, helping to empower the young trainees. The 25 trainees will then train a further 50 young people, ensuring greater, sustainable spread of the key skills, knowledge and ways of thinking they have acquired in their communities. By utilizing psychosocial support techniques, the trainees will be able to help their communities recover and grow.

Thank you for your generous support, which makes this program possible! More updates to follow ...

Youth Summit to end FGM!
Youth Summit to end FGM!

Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is a prevalent issue in Sierra Leone, in the form of transactional sex, early marriage, domestic abuse, and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (UNDP 2012). In the post-conflict and post-Ebola context, women and girls who suffer from SGBV, also face severe stigmatization that is often condoned and perpetuated by their communities. Current data indicates a huge gap in the provision of emotional support to adolescent girls and boys - vulnerable to depression, anxiety, malnutrition and substance abuse.

Over the years Sierra Leone has made serious strides in breaking the silence surrounding FGM, including training on its dangers, and engaging practitioners, religious and traditional leaders, Members of Parliament, youth (especially those at risk) in various forums to educate on the consequences of FGM/C and to map the way forward to end the practice.

In December 2017, IsraAID, as part of the Voices of Sierra Leone consortium, organized a two-day national Youth Summit to raise awareness, advocate, and disseminate positive messages against FGM/C. The summit was funded by The Global Fund for Women.

The Voices of Sierra Leone consortium is a group that includes civil society groups and NGOs working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in Sierra Leone. It includes the following local organizations; Program for Children - Sierra Leone; Girl Child Network Sierra Leone; Women Activities and Safe Hands for Girls; Amazonian Initiative Movement; and IsraAID.

The Youth Summit brought together over 100 young people and key stakeholders – including health sector, local government, youth-led CSOs, government ministers, religious and traditional leaders - to discuss, learn, share experiences, and advocate for ending the practice of FGM/C in Sierra Leone. By supporting the future leaders of Sierra Leone, who want to see constructive change, the consortium aims to bring about positive change.

The summit included testimonies from survivors, stories of change and hope, and how to address misconceptions and myths that are hindering the advocacy of prevention of FGM. For example, one session was jointly led by an Imam and a Pastor, who discussed from a religious perspective why FGM is not part of the Muslim or Christian faith beliefs. Another was led by a doctor who discussed the health implications of FGM, and the consortium presented their mapping results about the prevelance of cases across the regions. 

The sessions featured the use of drama, song and presentations by youth leaders, religious leaders, FGM/C advocates, women leaders, traditional leaders, medical practitioners, school-going and non-school-going youth, and statements by government ministries/departmental representatives and the media, all aiming to create a catalyst for social change.

The summit's objectives were to:

  • Spark a conversation about FGM/C and engage youth in the dialogue.
  • Create a national debate on issues of FGM/C, and young people's involvement to end the practice.
  • Look at the effective enforcement of laws developed by the government to eliminate FGM/C.
  • Form a national youth movement to end FGM/C.

After the summit, the youth were grouped by regions, and each region decided on a strategy to approach the issue. Some decided to focus on social media, some on printed media, and others on running school events. Just last week, some of the youth organized a radio debate on the issue with various stakeholder representatives in Freetown!

More updates to follow! Thank you for your support!

Radio show discussing how to prevent FGM.
Radio show discussing how to prevent FGM.

Ceaseless heavy rainfall on 13th and 14th August left areas of Freetown devastated by mudslides, burying some communities in more than 50 feet of mud and boulders.

The cities insufficient drainage system, poor waste management and overcrowded urban dwellings further amplified the devastation. More than 500 people lost their lives in this natural disaster, and over 900 men women and children registered missing.

Overwhelmingly, this disaster affected the most impoverished families in Freetown, an already vulnerable population who were the hardest hit during the Ebola outbreak and have experienced recurrent flooding over many years. The overcrowded areas and poor structural integrity of the buildings left little hope of resilience in the face of the power of the flood waters. 

In the immediate aftermath of the floods water, sanitation, food, healthcare, shelter and psychological support were the essential areas of focus.

"During the morning hours of that day, I heard a big bang on the wall of our house within a short period I realised that the house was falling down. I tried to swim to get out of the house, but unfortunately for me I got a hit on my side by the falling wall of the house which left these bruises on me. There was heavy force of water pouring down from the hill which I have never seen before. In the process of trying to escape from the floods, I saw an iron that I thought will help me out. As I stretch to hang on it the water pressure pushed me to some rubbles where I got serious injuries on my head, hands, and feet. I hit my head twice on the stone. I thought my life was coming to an end—I was hopeless. I also, saw five of my family members struggling in the water and calling for help. I almost got drowned, but fortunately the water took me to the side and throw me on the weed, that was the last thing that I can remember. I only got conscious of myself in the evening hours, and I realised that I am in the hospital. Later, I was informed that the military personnel rescued me from the floods and took me to the Emergency Hospital where I was admitted for two days. Currently, I live with my uncle who is providing me with some support. I don’t reside in the camp provided for us the victims because of the cold, the shelter is a school and we have more than 200 people sleeping here (overcrowded). Also, since the flooding, I have been wearing these clothes. I have lost all my properties to the floods, I have no clothes with me except these ones I am wearing. My major concern for now is how to get a better medical care, food, clothing, and shelter." Francis, 27 years old. 

IsraAID began to respond to the crisis just one day after the event and developed an intervention targeting 2 of the worst affected communities Kamayama (757 registered) and Kaningo (1058 registered) which represented 34% of the total affected population. The 2 communities experienced a very different event on the day of the disaster with Kamayama close to the mud slide experiencing many deaths as well as loss of property and possessions, and Kaningo, where no local deaths were registered but most of the bodies ended after being swept down the river from the communities at higher elevations.

In the 3 weeks following the disaster IsraAID's team rapidly assessed the situation and subsequently designed a response focused primarily on mental health and psycho-social support with health and hygiene promotion messages, construction of sanitation tools and distribution of basic hygiene supplies. IsraAID was able to provide support to Francis and other individuals with the aim of assisting the affected communities to process their grief and experiences and move forward into the recovery phase.

Thank you for supporting IsraAID's work in Sierra Leone!

Children support groups
Children support groups
 

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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
Project Leader:
Navonel (Voni) Glick
Deputy Director / COO
Be'er Sheva, Be'er Sheva Israel

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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