WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak is a web-based, oral history database that allows users to access a substantial collection of personal video testimonials from Ebola survivors, their family members, and other community members affected by the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. We believe it is vital that West Africans contribute directly and significantly to the historical record of this global health crisis and help contribute to how the Ebola crisis and the region are understood.
West Africa received unprecedented international press attention after European and American healthcare workers contracted the disease and were diagnosed in their home countries. A preoccupation with the European experience of Ebola created even more distance from a region which hovers on the edges of international attention and understanding. Additionally, local trust in government and foreign aid organizations was lacking, and compliance with recommended health practices came slowly.
It is difficult to build trust and understanding in the pressurized environment of a health disaster. One of our central goals with the project is to add depth and authenticity to how the Ebola crisis is understood through the sharing of personal testimonials. To date, we have nearly a hundred hours of unused footage spread out over more than 80 interviews that are a critically important and tremendously underrepresented part of the historical record of this event.
We are highly motivated to preserve this archive and to continue our work to facilitate the inclusion of African voices in the telling of African history.We hope that these interviews will aid in a deeper level of understanding and will improve strategies implemented by foreign systems in the future. We also aim to develop a set of standards and best practices for the process of creating a new archive from already existing materials captured during the production of non-fiction documentary film.