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Ebola: the story of the Sierra Leone diaspora response that no one is telling
By: Ernest Danjuma Enebi
Oct 3, 2014

Here’s a great story in the Guardian of Africans around the world contributing to the ebola crisis:

“I live in Sierra Leone for part of the year so I know people who would struggle,” said Janneh. “I wanted to organise something for them but then I thought: ‘No, I have to help as many people as I can manage at the time.’”

It took just over a week to organise the logistics: obtaining government passes to travel around, finding NGOs in country with the infrastructure they could work with, as well as shopping for food and organising the cooking. In the three days of the lockdown, Lunchbox fed approximately 2,600 people in seven different communities.

But this has not been the only diaspora-led response to the Ebola crisis. Around the time of the outbreak, employees of the Sierra Leone War Trust for Children were on holiday in London. For various reasons, the group was unable to return home. Wanting to find a practical way to provide support, they bought and sent back 750 raincoats for okada (commercial motorbike) riders to wear, so they could continue to carry passengers without fear of transmission.

“People aren’t sitting around waiting for governments to sort things out,” said Ade Daramy, chair and spokesperson for the UK Sierra Leone Diaspora Ebola Task Force. “Nobody had thought of that idea, even the okada riders hadn’t. They were just going to lose passengers as far as they were aware, but the initiative actually rescued their livelihoods in a major way.”

Africa is not a victim in this crisis. Let’s show the world that we are rising to the occasion. We can’t wait for the world to save us, we have to be agents of the change we want. Heard of other African-led efforts against ebola, drop us a line.

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