The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic severely impacted the Western African nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 14,000 people were infected in Sierra Leone, out of which more than 4,000 died and left families and children behind.
CWB-USA is partnering with CWB-Sweden to bring resilience, spark moments of joy, and create space for children to deal with the difficult issues and emotions resulting from the epidemic. The project was planned in close collaboration with the “Association of Friends of Portee,” and the local partner organization “Future of Sierra Leone,” who have been engaged in activities for vulnerable children in Sierra Leone for 10 years. Many of the affected children carry unprocessed trauma from the epidemic, and there is a great need to enhance children’s psychosocial health and reduce trauma. The importance of play has been central in the work of the Association of Friends of Portées.
The project is based in the city Portee and its surroundings, a suburb of the capital, Freetown. We will also be working in the province Kumra Bay, located about 150 km from Freetown. Portee is a shanty town that was severely impacted by the epidemic. Many children were orphaned, forced to witness traumatic scenes of bodies being transported away from the houses, and several children were enrolled in Ebola centers without their families being contacted. The School of Portee was forced to stay closed for almost two years and the area was quarantined on multiple occasions.
The objective of this project is to reach out to children who were affected by ebola, living in villages, townships and foster care and help bring back childhood. We will be performing at schools, as they are natural gathering places, and also public squares, to reach children who are not attending school. We will also be working with street children and children who are ostracized because their entire family – or they themselves – were infected.