Ebola survivors shift the focus from fear to hope

Captured by in-country filmmaking teams, the #ISurvivedEbola survivors’ testimonies should help shift the narrative around the Ebola outbreak away from fear and despair toward resilience and hope, without downplaying the remaining challenges.

“The Ebola outbreak has spread fear and spawned misinformation across West Africa and the world. Despite the outpouring of international aid, the number of Ebola cases continues to rise, and the disease is trickling beyond the borders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola affects us all, so the international community needs to step up to stop it. But to correct misinformation, we must spotlight survivors’ stories – compelling narratives of resilience and hope – and listen to local perspectives about how together, we can tackle Ebola,” said Sean Southey, CEO of the entertainment-education organisation PCI Media Impact.

Ebola survivors speak out  #ISurvivedEbola
Ebola survivors and father-son duo, William and Patrick Poopei, visit William’s place of work. William presents the certificate stating he is Ebola free but his employer refused to accept him back due to fear of the virus.   

The stigma Ebola survivors face

As source of encouragement, the aim of #ISurvivedEbola campaign is to inform the West African public about the virus and how they can protect themselves against it. Supported as part of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s broader #TackleEbola initiative, it’s hoped that #ISurvivedEbola campaign will also help reduce the stigma Ebola survivors face and promote their reintegration into their communities.

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With over 16 000 Ebola cases and over 7 000 deaths reported since March 2014 – over 99 per cent of them in West Africa – the outbreak has been declared a global public health emergency and alarmed the world.

“Ebola survivors have powerful stories to tell. Their accounts of resilience and survival can inspire hundreds of others, address misconceptions and help fight stigma – one of the biggest challenges Ebola survivors face. We are proud to be supporting the #ISurvivedEbola campaign, which seeks to empower these brave individuals and help amplify their stories to the world,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative in Liberia.  

Watch the first #ISurvivedEbola video

The first #ISurvivedEbola video sets the tone for the campaign by sharing the story of William and Patrick Poopei, a father and son who contracted and recovered from Ebola in Liberia.

Ebola survivor William Poopei tells the story of how he and his son recovered from the virus.
Ebola survivor William Poopei of Paynesville, Liberia, tells the story of how he and his son, Patrick, recovered from the virus.

William narrates the piece from a bench outside his home in Paynesville, while six-year-old Patrick sits quietly by his side. In a voice that only occasionally belies the grief he has experienced, William tells the world how he lost his wife and 13 other family members to suspected Ebola, and how early treatment helped him and Patrick recover from the virus. 

Hope in the Midst of an Outbreak: William’s Story of Survival from #ISurvivedEbola on Vimeo.

In the coming weeks and months, #ISurvivedEbola will roll out 30 more stories of survivors.

Source: APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of #TackleEbola.

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