Filmmakers at WeOwnTV and the Sierra Leone Film Council have produced a series of short video public service announcements (PSA’s) for wide distribution on local television and radio to help sensitize the country about the current Ebola disease epidemic. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign so far and helped make our initial fundraising drive a success. We have joined the Global Giving challenge for the month of September and have a new goal to raise an additional $10,000 to support continued production of our PSAs and dramatic educational series, as well as distribution and community engagement. Click below to donate and support our campaign.

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As filmmakers and storytellers we feel that we have an important role to play in the current Ebola crisis in west Africa. Misinformation and distrust is causing people not to get treated and without question is allowing the disease to spread more widely. WeOwnTV production manager Barmmy Boy explains,”When it is being put into film, people will definitely believe because it is not coming from a big politician, or an expert, or a doctor. It’s coming from the locals themselves who are living in these communities,”. “We always say in Sierra Leone: Seeing is believing.” The campaign, according to WeOwnTV Education manager Arthur Pratt, already seems to be working. “Attitudes are changing—people are not denying anymore. Actions are changing towards the issues,” he says, describing how most communities are requiring anyone entering their house to first wash their hands, and don’t touch.”

The objectives of the campaign are to raise awareness within both rural and urban population across communities in Sierra Leone and by extension Liberia, and Guinea on the Ebola virus symptoms, prevention and care for Ebola survivors. We are currently working to produce videos and radio pieces in eight local and two international languages (English and French). On August 13th the Sierra Leone Broadcast corporation (SLBC) began airing the Krio video as we work to complete translations of the other set. Local partners will also distribute PSAs on radio & via internet. Video and radio airing will be paired with hosted call in discussions. The information is also being disseminated via health promotion campaigns using house-to-house, community sensitization and via SMS messaging on key preventative measures.

The Health Ministry has mounted a large response to the outbreak but is hampered by a weak health system, limited disease surveillance capabilities and increasing absenteeism of health staff in key locations. Though videos are being produced in Sierra Leone we are also working with the Manu River Union to plan dissemination in both Liberia and Guinea as we share multiple local languages.

Thank you to all the generous donors who have supported us in this effort. This campaign is supported in part by grants from The Bertha Foundation, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Fledgling Fund and individual donors.


08/20/14: The Daily Beast

08/23/14: BBC World Service NewsHour