WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak

by Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV
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WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak
WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak
WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak
SURVIVORS nominated for NEWS & DOCUMENTARY EMMY!
SURVIVORS nominated for NEWS & DOCUMENTARY EMMY!

Hello GlobalGiving Supporters,

We hope you all had a wonderful summer. July and August were wonderful months for WeOwnTV and the Freetown Media Centre. We wanted to send you all another heartfelt thank for everyone who supported the WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola outbreak project during the July Bonus day. Your support, together with the generous match, helped us meet our $10,000 goal! The team back in Sierra Leone has already begun working on the final translations. We are so grateful for you support and honored to be working together with Emory University on this importunity project.

I am also thrilled to announce that earlier this month, we received an Emmy Nomination for SURVIVORS for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary. Here is a note I wanted to share with you all from the films' Director, Arthur Pratt:

"This project has been a journey of a life time. Little did I know that our response to this health crisis would put our countrymen on the world stage. When I received the news of Survivors been nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of best ‘Social Impact documentary’ I thought of all the generous support we have received over the years to get us here. I sincerely believe that this nomination and all that is to follow equally belongs to our supporters, to those who died and ALL those who fought and continue to put their lives at risk to end the spread of Ebola in Africa. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

And thank you to all of you, who supported us during the production of SURVIVORS and who have continues to support us as we deepen the impact of this project through the WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola outbreak project. It has also been a journey of a lifetime for myself, who met Arthur and the rest of the team at the Freetown Media Centre ten years ago in 2009. I had no doubt their compassion and creativity would lead to this type of recognition and I am proud to continue to keep supporting their efforts and this importnat work.

With Grattidude,

Banker White

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Community screening of SURVIVORS in the Freetown
Community screening of SURVIVORS in the Freetown

Hello GlobalGiving Community!

This spring we are continuing to work to bring Survivors to key audiences within Africa and Europe and catalyze critical discussions about local health systems. The 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak was the longest and deadliest in history. Lasting 24 months, the epidemic began in rural Guinea before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus killed more than 11,000 people and infected nearly 30,000, causing a global healthcare panic. 

We've had a series of successful screenings in Europe, including Oslo, Prague, Geneva, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Istanful. We will be screening this month at the International Documentary Film Festival in München. We are excited to work with host organizations and festival programming teams to curate conversations that inspire new thought and foster a deeper sociocultural understanding of the disease in order to foster trust between foreign and local aid workers, improve communication, and design policy that takes into account the complex dimensions of collaboration in a cross-cultural context.

Since returning home to Sierra Leone, our focus has turned to community based education work that will bring the film and our educational materials directly to communities that were hit hardest by the outbreak. In Sierra Leone, we have screenings planned with NGO partners in all of the country’s main city centers. We intend screening the film in 21 locations across 8 administrative district headquarters town and cities which includes- (BO, KENEMA, KALIHUN, MAKENI, PORTLOKO, WESTERN RURAL, and WESTERN URBAN).

 For each screening, we have planned a full 48 hours of activities. The events will begin by inviting community leaders to give opening remarks. Screenings include refreshments and an extensive period for discussion. In addition to a Q&A, community members will be encouraged to share their own experiences. The second day will be used as an opportunity to share thoughts and experiences by contributing first person testimonials to the WeSurvive oral histories project. There are many current and complex psychosocial issues that have been affecting the country following the Ebola outbreak and we want to use these events to create a platform for communities to feel like they are still being heard. The issues that we will address in the community facilitated discussion will include: Post Epidemic Healing, Improving Information Infrastructure and Empowering Indigenous Media.

Our central goal with these activities is to help establish trust between community members and the institutions that serve them. another aim is to recognize the strength of heroism demonstrated by our frontline health workers and Ebola survivors during the outbreak in Sierra Leone. We want tio create a forum for community members to voice their feelings and opinions regarding response time and intervention made by the government, the international communities, and the general public. We also intend to use the film as a motivational tool in promoting the culture of patriotism and national cohesion especially in issues regarding national development.

Thank you for all your support!

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Hello GlobalGiving Supporters,

2018 was an incredible year for our team and marked ten years since we met Arthur Pratt and Lansana Barmmy Boy and began working together on the WeOwnTVinitiative. In that time, WeOwnTV has become a leading organization supporting media literacy, civic engagement and media production training in West Africa. In 2019, we are continuing to work to bring our documentary Survivors and the WeSurvive project to key audiences within Africa and Europe and catalyze critical discussions about local health systems. The 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak was the longest and deadliest in history. Lasting 24 months, the epidemic began in rural Guinea before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus killed more than 11,000 people and infected nearly 30,000, causing a global healthcare panic. The three countries most affected by the outbreak were Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. These were countries with little to no health infrastructure in place to support the kinds of isolation and public health work required.

Raising Awareness in Africa - Strategic Partners, Capstone Events & Screening Tour

In Africa, we have planned a series of capstone events with institutional partners, and a regional West African screening tour, that will bring the film and our educational materials directly to communities that were hit hardest by the outbreak. In Sierra Leone, we have screenings planned with NGO partners in all of the country’s main city centers. With Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), we have planned capstone screenings in Sierra Leone at the Kenema Government Hospital; in Bo and Kailahun; and, an event in Monrovia, Liberia. We are also working with Dr. Dan Kelly to plan a series of events in the Kono District together with the WellBody Alliance. Dr. Kelly is a leading researcher at UCSF who has worked extensively in Sierra Leone and in the DRC. He is a founding member of the Wellbody Alliance which runs multiple health clinics in Sierra Leone. Our main focus to date has been screening events within Sierra Leone that address the complex psycho-social and cultural issues following the Ebola outbreak.

With the resurgence of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have also been working with partners to strategize presenting the film and our materials within the DRC and surrounding countries. Each screening will be customized to include a strategically relevant combination of filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions with experts and scholars, and facilitated conversations with community members. Dr. Kelly is currently working in the DRC and has connected us to the WHO Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) emergency preparedness team. There are 11 surrounding at-risk countries that have been identified and we are exploring the possibility of planning individual screenings through this program, as well.

Building Trust - Community Screenings and the WeSurvive project:

Our team is organizing a series of screenings and discussion events in the greater Freetown area and in rural areas countrywide in partnership with the network of community leaders and organizations with whom we collaborated during the outbreak. We will also continue production on WeSurvive: Stories of the Ebola Outbreak as an integral part of how we plan to work with affected communities moving forward. Our entire production team is made up of Sierra Leoneans, all of whom lived in Sierra Leone throughout the outbreak and are living at home today. The outreach events we are working on are also being planned collaboratively within communities we know well and that we worked with during the outbreak, in production on Survivors, the WeSurvive project, and during the distribution of public health messaging. These include political leaders in rural communities, churches and mosques, non-profit groups and local cinema centers.

For each screening, we have planned a full 48 hours of activities. The events will begin by inviting community leaders to give opening remarks. Screenings include refreshments and an extensive period for discussion. In addition to a Q&A, community members will be encouraged to share their own experiences. The second day will be used as an opportunity to share thoughts and experiences by contributing first person testimonials to the WeSurvive oral histories project. There are many current and complex psychosocial issues that have been affecting the country following the Ebola outbreak and we want to use these events to create a platform for communities to feel like they are still being heard. The issues that we will address in the community facilitated discussion will include: Post Epidemic Healing, Improving Information Infrastructure and Empowering Indigenous Media. Looking very forward to updating you all as our program rolls out.

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On Friday November 9th, filmmakers from the Freetown Media Centre shared their film SURVIVORS back home in Freetown for the first time. The entire cast and crew was in attendance for this very special home town premiere. The film was co-presented by WeOwnTV and British Council Sierra Leone and was a part of British Council's 75 anniversary celebration.

Four years ago, these fsame ilmmakers, together with local Sierra Leonean health care workers were at the frontline fighting Ebola - reacting to a crisis situation and doing the best they could for their community and their country. I am so proud of the work they have done and that our organization was able to support them in the process. It brings us even more happiness and pride to know that their efforts are also being recognized at home in sierra Leone and worldwide. When SURVIVORS aired on PBS this past fall here in the US, it was the first feature length documentary to air on the network that was directed by a Sierra Leonean. But it became clear this past weekend was that the most important work for this project still lies ahead - and that is sharing this story back in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea - stimulating critical conversations among the communities that were most directly affected.

Friday's screening was planned just two days after the three year anniversary that Sierra Leone was declared Ebola and kicks off our West African screening tour. Many communities we will screen at are the same communities we have been filming with since 2014. We look at this long standing relationship building as a kind of trust building process. Many participants in the project feel empowered knowing that the sharing of their experience may actually affect how future efforts and strategies will be formed.

Communities need to be at the center of all public health efforts. Solutions to complicated problems always lie within the communities themselves. The best work always happens the ground up. But this is hard-earned knowledge. It seems obvious, but tragically rarely happens. Our project portrays the importance of building better relationships between aid organizations and local communities they serve and our work beckons a more nuanced approach anchored in the cultural and political milieu of the community itself in order to spread correct information, manage the crisis and save lives. Additionally our project itself, and the role our Sierra Leonean collaborators played during the outbreak, underscores the importance of having a healthy indigenous media sector in the region to help share vital information during these critical times.

Survivors and the WeSurvive project illustrates that the urgent importance of empowering community members themselves to provide the leadership in the face of a health crisis. Thank you so much for saupporting our efforts.

With Grattitude,

Banker

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Ebola Survivors sharing their experiences
Ebola Survivors sharing their experiences

Hello GlobalGiving Community,

This summer has been a busy one for the WeOwnTV and the filmmakers of the Freetown Media Center. In June, arthur, Barmmy, anna and myself travelled to the Encounters International Documentray Film Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, to world premiere the Survivors documentray. It was an amazing experience and the film was recieved incredibly well. Arthur was the first Sierra Leoean Director share a film at the festival and the film was selected as a Best of Fest screening pick and they added two screenings before we departed. After Encounters the whole team travelled to the Shanghai International Film Festival to share the film at the one of the largest film festivals in the Asian market. It was was a wonderful launch and we can't wait for more. 

We also also could not be more proud of the WeSurvive project and the work we are doing to share this important collection of first person testimonials about the outbreak: it is the perfect companion to our film. We recently solidified a partnership with Emory University to host the archive ensuring the projects future. The media center team continued to interview Survivors through the Spring and again this past July. In September, Sierra Leonean Director Arthur Pratt and Co-Director Barmmy Mansaray will be traveling through the US with the Survivors  film. We are booking up fast so if you know of anyone - African studies scholars, Public Health Experts, Epidemiologists, Anthropologists, International Aid Organizations, Religious Organizations, Medical NGOs, Gender Studies experts, or others who may be interested in booking a screening of this historic film, please let us know.

"With unflinching intimacy, Survivors places us in the midst of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Chronicling the unfolding bravery, bureaucratic blunder, and deep humanity of an African community under siege, these Sierra Leonean filmmakers see their world with the clarity and empathy possessed only by extraordinary storytellers. It is a remarkable film.”

- Robb Moss,  Filmmaker and Chair, Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University 

Survivors @ the Shanghai International Film Fest
Survivors @ the Shanghai International Film Fest
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Organization Information

Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WeOwnTV
Project Leader:
Banker White
San Francisco, CA United States
$10,014 raised of $15,000 goal
 
46 donations
$4,986 to go
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