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
Our team on the ground in Sierra Leone
Our team on the ground in Sierra Leone

Incessant rain fall on Sunday night and Monday August 14, left the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown in a state of emergency. Torrents of water rushed through the city in the early hours on Monday sweeping up entire homes and creating mudslides leaving massive destruction in its wake. Over 300 people have lost their lives and more than 600 are still missing after the heavy rains deluged the city's insufficient drainage system. IsraAID team in Sierra Leone responded quickly and the team on the ground is working tirelessly with the government and our local partners to provide immediate relief and psychosocial support.

It is the height of the rainy season and heavy floods are not uncommon. IsraAID Sierra Leone’s Country Director Andra Weissberger told i24News:

“Late on Sunday night, it started raining really hard and the sanitation system is not equipped to handle all the water so it creates flooding. There’s a dam which was incapable of handling the water and it created a flood.”

 “Since yesterday morning there has been at least 75 to 100 people at any given time searching for bodies. As far as I understand, they have not found anyone alive. People are overwhelmed by the enormity of the disaster. Bodies were carried through the streets in the rushing water. Our staff was helping retrieve them so that the Red Cross could come and collect them. Many of the bodies recovered were severed, leaving it difficult to give an accurate picture of the death toll.” (see link below for full article)

Beyond the initial tragedy and destruction, long-term trauma can have a debilitating effect for a population already reeling from the civil war and the recent Ebola outbreak. In addition to the immediate response IsraAID will also aim to build the resilience of the local community through capacity-building.

Update from the Radio Talk-shows

The anticipated audience for the radio talk-show weekly is 4000 people. The radio talk-shows are hosted at “Radio Kollenten” which have a wider coverage that covers the entire Kambia district. This event serves as a community sensitization on the issues of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and referral pathways, to get an inclination of how our intervention has been perceived by the community people; to raise awareness on the issues of gender based violence and track whether the past phases of the project are generating impact.

The people were very enthusiastic about the program; A range of 90-92% of the callers expressed their appreciation and commend IsraAID for their intervention. The radio talk-shows are empowering and enabling women and girls to know their rights and be knowledgeable about SGBV and their referral pathways. Victims of SGBV explained their situations and the inhumane treatment they are going through as one caller stated: “Men have been maltreating us on the notion that we are their properties, today, I have realised that I do have my rights and I now know how and where to channel my concerns’’ also a caller send a text message which stated “For decades we the women are asked to take the back row, used as remote controllers, live in stoic situations, this program will be a starting point where women and girls will realize and be aware of their rights and the law that protect them”.

School visits

A total of fourteen schools were visited in the 7 chiefdoms in Kambia District. There were huge turnout of pupils and teachers, a total of 10,869 attendees; 10,509 pupils, 360 teachers. The school authorities and pupils in all 7 chiefdoms visited were passionate and excited about the visitation. In both engagement, the pupils and teachers gave positive comments that they really appreciate and happy about the project. As the principal of Great Scarcies Secondary School,  stated “this visitation is not just awareness raising of SGBV and referral pathways but a motivation talk for my pupils and the teachers; we have also learned and developed inspirations to unite against SGBV abuse in our school”.  

One pupil at Magbema Islamic Secondary School stated that “this presentation has made me to understand the issues impacting our success as girls, and I have developed the desire to help fight against it by speaking out”.

Also, a teacher at Kollenten Secondary School stated that “What you are doing is very important, now I understand that some of these issues we used to engage in are negatively impacting our pupils’ academic success (Psychological Violence); we really appreciate your coming to us”.

Thank you for supporting IsraAID's programs in Sierra Leone - please donate now to help our response team continue the work of cleaning up after the mudslide and strenghten the community through the crisis. 

Link to the article in i24NEWs here

Widespread destruction followed the mudslide
Widespread destruction followed the mudslide
Psychological first aid
Psychological first aid
Radio talk-show recording
Radio talk-show recording
School visit
School visit
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The Community Gathering for Sensitization Event
The Community Gathering for Sensitization Event

Sexual and Gender Based Violence is one of the most frequently committed offences in present day Sierra Leone, especially in the provinces where women and girls are traditionally considered as the personal properties of men. Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Sierra Leone (SL) is above 90% and is often caused by those closest to the women and girls, in the form of, transactional sex, early marriage, domestic abuse, and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (UNDP 2012).   The issue of child marriage, rape, child labor and other domestic violence acts are considered a normal way of life by most people in many communities. Most community stakeholders are discouraging victims and their relatives from forwarding SGBV matters to the appropriate systems for legal and punitive measures to be taken against perpetrators; instead they resorted to settlement even when aggravated domestic violence is committed against young women and girls. There are factors that negate the understanding of SGBV context in the provinces, and this is impeding the swift intervention of community volunteers in mitigating SGBV. Among those factors are cultural perception of the role of women and girls, ambiguous interpretation of violence against women and girls, and the lack of reporting and referral pathways.

In support of mitigating the effects of SGBV IsraAID has embarked on a year long program to support the development and stregthening of referral pathways as well as community sensitization on the issues.in the northern district of Kambia. 

IsraAID has been providing training sessions for volunteers, that fuction as liaison officers in their communities that handle matters of SGBV and report to appropriate authorities when it is deemed necessary. Through this project, IsraAID aims to promote better access to information and community based support following acts of SGBV while supporting the relevant actors who support the community. 

IsraAID with the support of its local partner SHADE successfully completed training with major stakeholders, paraprofessionals, Chiefs, SHADE volunteers, and the Ministry of Social Welfare on strengthening referral pathways and their roles in mitigating cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, it was evident that community members were unaware of the available channels to forward their cases, and those who had an idea, were afraid to do so. Following this training IsraAID hosted a series of activites to sensetize the community at large, starting with stakeholder meetings in headquarter towns, starting an ongoing discussion on the radio station, and holding community activities that were designed to reach the general populus. The main intent for the hosting of community events was to provide the grassroots with access to information on the concept of sexual and gender based violence, damaging effects experienced by its victims, and to further validate the presence of volunteers and the various referral pathways. A total of fourteen community events were hosted within the seven chiefdoms in the Kambia district.

During these events, there was a huge turnout and participation of stakeholders, community members (men, women, children, aged) and SHADE volunteers. The events were designed to be engaging bring the community together to learn about the issues surrounding SGBV and where they can turn for support. In all of the events, it was established that IsraAID in collaboration with SHADE SL had already launched SGBV and referral pathway training with the stakeholders, Chiefs, paraprofessionals etc. and it was crucial that the message be disseminated  to the grassroots who are most times vulnerable. With the help of the SHADE volunteers who understood the local language spoken, an interpretation was given on the concept of SGBV, potential effects on victims, information was provided on the existing channels and the role of volunteers in addressing these issues. In order for attendees to further grasp the information, a skit was presented different forms of SGBV; physical abuse and assault, early marriage and rape. Comments and question were made by attendees and the stakeholders reiterated that a collaborative effort was required of every community member in order address issues of SGBV and to foster the growth and development of the various communities. It was concluded that SGBV was harmful and it was essential that the dignity, pride and empowerment of women and girls was secured.  

 The community events went as planned, hundreds turnout to participants and many key actors within the chiefdom (volunteers, stakeholders, community leaders, women leaders, representatives from Family Support Unit (FSU) and Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs (MoSWGCA) and so on) were in attendance, which further showed the community the importance of the issues presented as well as their support of ending SGBV in the district.

The people received the field officers with alacrity and were ardent about the event. There were positive reactions such as active listening, attentive, ask questions and gave valuable contributions related to SGBV and referral pathways which proved that they really understood the message. A participant asked “if I don’t have money to report such cases or don’t have transportation fare to contact Family Support Unit (FSU) staff to report a case, what mechanisms have you put in place”, another person asked “please tell me if a female child became a drop-out or got pregnant, who is responsible?” The most pervasive question asked in all the chiefdoms was “what about women who physically abuse their husbands, what mechanisms or policies assign for that”. This further highlights how much work there is to do in the communities, the defensive question shows us there is still a lot more to do. Different comments and contributions were highlighted by the audience. A man contributed, “Women are not property that can be treated as one, but should be treated as humans, and we should love and adore them as they are our mothers, sisters and aunts. Another youth contributed by saying “Children who are under the age of fifteen years are not matured to be initiates into the “Bondo” society to mutilate her genital organs”.

Another success observed was the incorporation of key actors to who took leading roles in the events. For instance, when they served as interpreters, actors; helped in the dissemination of the messages which gave a sense of community ownership.

Finally, after the events there were massive calls from participants commending IsraAID and SHADE, asking questions and explaining their situations to SHADE representatives. There have also been an increase in cases reported which is seen a big win by the FSU. IsraAID with the help of SHADE is supporting the referral pathway actors to support all the cases reproted to seek justice and support where required. 

.IsraAID will continue to support the stregthening of the referral pathway and the actors involved as well as engage the communities, meeting them where they are and raising awareness on the issues of SGBV, 

Discussion at Community Event
Discussion at Community Event
Children attending the Community Event
Children attending the Community Event
Women Attending a Stakeholder Meeting
Women Attending a Stakeholder Meeting
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Meeting with Educators
Meeting with Educators

As IsraAID Sierra Leone ushered in the new year embarking on new projects that marked a shift from Ebola recovery to sustainable development in Sierra Leone, in line with the government agenda for 2017. Work started immediately with the conceptualization and preparatory foundation for two new project focusing on reducing sexual gender based violence and adding psychosocial support modules in the education system, helping to build the capacity of public school teachers.

IsraAID is taking a community based grassroots approach to programming this year aiming to involve the community not just beneficiaries in all our projects. It is only with their help that we can be successful and sustainable.

In order to ensure the community takes ownership of IsraAID’s projects, the field staff set out to meet with various stakeholders from the government to the populous, holding meetings not only to share ideas but to hear how the community sees themselves as partners in the projects.

IsraAID met with the Ministry of Education, to discuss how and where to pilot our psychosocial support curriculum for teachers.  With the full support of the ministry IsraAID is set to begin implementation in early March.

IsraAID also held stakeholder meetings with different community factions including, the police, military, chiefs, traditional leaders, heads of local government, and community members to discuss a program to reduce the instances of gender based violence in the district and improve referral pathways for those who need support follow an incident. The all stakeholders were very supportive and looking for ways to be actively engaged in the project including requests for training and support with difficult cases.

IsraAID Sierra Leone will continue to support the country’s neediest people providing programming that answers the needs of the people and the government in the most sustainable way possible. 

Gender Based Violence Stakeholder Meeting
Gender Based Violence Stakeholder Meeting
Meeting Stakeholders
Meeting Stakeholders
Meeting With Community Members on Education
Meeting With Community Members on Education
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IsraAID's team in Sierra Leone
IsraAID's team in Sierra Leone

November 29, it is Giving Tuesday and your donation to IsraAID via GlobalGiving will be 50 % matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – do not miss this opportunity!

Thank you for your support - here is a short update from the field:

Over the past two weeks the team has concluded the Planting Promise project and helped partners plan both the national Mental Health Conference and a first major young girl's camp led by one of our strongest partners, the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma.  These efforts are exciting opportunities to showcase the successes of the past 2 years, and share our findings with all the national and international organizations, as well as the government itself. Together we are building a better, safer future for communities devastated by years of civil war and the Ebola virus outbreak.

The team also held a psycho-social support and anger management workshop for teachers of the Planting Promise school. Below is a strong reflection from one of the workshop participants:

“Whenever a child came late to school, my only response has been; “stand over there and get on your knees”. I don’t allow them to explain anything to me. I would make them stand on their knees for as long as it pleased me; and afterwards, (I would) flog all of them before allowing them back in class. After participating in the workshop - I now take the time to listen to the students whenever they are late. As a result, I have become closer to my students and they know that I am ready to listen to them whenever they have something to share.”

There is still so much left to do! Although Sierra Leone has been Ebola free for over a year, the situation is still critical, and the social, emotional and economic impact on communities is still being felt today. IsraAID Sierra Leone is committed to rehabilitation and recovery, and hopes you will join us today. Remember - your donation will be 50% matched!

Thank you for supporting IsraAID and our work in Sierra Leone!

Workshop
Workshop
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Protect Sierra Leone With Columbia Team
Protect Sierra Leone With Columbia Team

Background

In spring 2014, the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic (EVD)spread across West Africa into Sierra Leone. It killed over 3,500 individuals in Sierra Leone alone and left about 3,500 survivors in its wake. Amidst the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, IsraAID’s mission in Sierra Leone launched in September 2014, when a preliminary needs assessment highlighted the gaps in mental health response being provided. Given their expertise in trauma and psychosocial support, IsraAID has subsequently offered a range of programming striving to mitigate the implications of EVD on stress, trauma, and social stigmatization and marginalization on survivors, frontline workers, and other communities impacted by the EVD epidemic. 

 

IsraAID has undertaken a range of projects working with international NGOs, local NGOs, and International Organizations these include, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, GOAL, Forah Bay College, EHealth Africa, COOPI, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, Njala University, SHADE, Concern Worldwide, CAPS, Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, and others.  IsraAID’s efforts in Sierra Leone have and continue to respond to the emerging mental health and psychosocial needs of the Sierra Leonean people.

 

Upcoming Projects:

Following the successful realization of the Ebola Heroes project, IsraAID SL has been undergoing extensive program development and partnership building based on the evolving needs of Sierra Leoneans. With this next stage of programming, IsraAID is transitioning its focus from responding to those impacted by the EVD epidemic to longer-term development interventions. Evaluating the pressing needs on the ground, IsraAID identified gender programming as a key sector to continue to utilize and build upon its mental health and psychosocial capacity and expertise. Several projects have been developed, and new partnerships were formed with CARE Sierra Leone, Focus1000, Columbia University's Psychiatric Institute and Planting Partners. They include 1) Bold Response to Adolescent Pregnancy 2) Outreach, Screening, and Trauma Intervention (OSTI) for Women in Sierra Leone 3) Planting Partners, Sensitizing Teachers to Promote Conflict Resolution and 4) UNDP-IsraAID Provision of specialized mental health and rehabilitative care for EVD survivors.

 

Bold Response to Adolescent Pregnancy

Sierra Leone has the highest rate of maternal/infant mortality globally. Over 28% of girls between 13-28 get pregnant. Following a Presidential decree in May 2015, once identified as pregnant, girls can not longer attend school. This project seeks to provide pregnant teens and young men with psychosocial support, reproductive health education, nutrition information and promote education/livelihood opportunities for them, enabling them to strive for better outcomes. Peer support groups will be held weekly led by a social worker, peer mentor, and nurse. Lessons will be bolstered through community health messaging using cellphone texting platforms. To ensure effective community engagement IsraAID has partnered with Focus1000, a local NGO with extensive community-based networks and CARE a global NGO focused on reproductive health and gender programming.  IsraAID is actively seeking funding for a pilot of this initiative and will begin content development shortly.

 

Outreach, Screening, and Trauma Intervention (OSTI) for Women in Sierra Leone

In partnership with Columbia University’s Psychiatric Institute and Center for PTSD IsraAID is developing a multi-faceted project to a) adapt and culturally validate measures of common trauma-related mental disorders (PTSD; depression; generalized anxiety disorder); b) train and supervise personnel to provide a three step-care, personally tailored, integrated approach, ranging from outreach to adult traumatized women, to screening, and personalized treatment; and c) assess the effectiveness of the three step-care model and develop best practices; and d) create research capacity able to collect, manage and participate in data analyzes mental health data; and e) build mental health capacity nationally.  Program planning and fundraising is underway.

 

Planting Promise, Sensitizing Teachers to Promote Conflict Resolution

Throughout Sierra Leone corporal punishment is rampant. IsraAID has partnered with the NGO/Social enterprise, Planting Promise to develop and pilot a curriculum that will promote conflict resolution in classrooms and empower teachers to respond better to the emotional needs of their students. Through the tailoring of these materials and provision of training and supervision, IsraAID will validate and strengthen its content and pilot materials. Curriculum development and implementation beginning.

 

Provision of Specialized Mental Health and Rehabilitative care for Ebola survivors

This project seeks to integrate specialized clinical care for Ebola Virus Disease survivors into the current tertiary health care system. As an initial entry point, the project will seek to work within three government facilities in Western Area, Bombali, and Bo, striving to provide national coverage and promote greater sustainability. This year-long project aims to bring in three physical therapists/rehabilitation specialists and three psychiatrists/clinical psychologists to Sierra Leone. The specialists will provide both in-country and telemedicine remote care throughout the year. The schedule for specialist support will comprise of alternating periods with in-country direct support, followed by remote telemedicine support. 

 

Concluding Remarks

As Sierra Leone continues to rebuild in the wake of the Ebola epidemic, IsraAID is uniquely positioned to respond to the most pressing national mental health needs, those of- women, children, and adolescents. These projects strive to lend support to vulnerable population and build national capacity for mental health treatment and research. 

Planting Promises School
Planting Promises School
Learning at Planting Promises
Learning at Planting Promises
Children Learning at Planting Promises
Children Learning at Planting Promises
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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
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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