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.
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