What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No more Ebola in Nigeria

Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Africa's most populous country won praise for its swift response after an infected Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Precarity of Living with Ebola

I don't know where to begin.  I've never in my life hoped for anyone to have Malaria (especially after almost dying of it myself), and never even thought much of Typhoid fever.  But right now I am hoping, and asking for any and everyone's positive thoughts and prayers, that Yapo just has malaria or typhoid.

Yapo and Tyson
For months I have been interacting  almost daily with Yapo in Sierra Leone, trying to figure out a way to combat this deadly disease.  Trying to raise awareness here in the US, get donations for food and medicine, and simply trying to get people here to care.  Yet, repeatedly, I have to tell him I've come up empty.

It took us three years to scratch together enough money just to start building a small office/community center in Makeni.  We finally sent the money - $3800 - in two allotments last spring, and started building the foundation for our vision for alternative, community centered not-for-profit "development" in Sierra Leone.  We got this high:

aibia's office/community center...
Then Ebola struck, and everything in the country stopped.  But not Yapo, Throughout it all, He has been working incredibly hard, struggling to make things better.  Proposal after proposal, idea after idea: an information campaign, a door to door awareness campaign, medical professionals, volunteers, etc.  The budget dropped and the plans changed as we came up empty one after the other. What about just food and medicine?   We tried to no avail, but yapo kept working.  He created a group called "save Salone" on whatsapp made up of over 30 professionals and connected people working towards productive responses to Ebola.  From that day I have been connected not just to him, but to his whole network.  This has of course connected my network to him and them.  This website i"m writing on right now, our organizations website (www.aibia.org), facebook, etc.  The world that I know and the people I engage with have been connected because of Yapo's tireless work ethic.  And work done in the face of a deadly disease that is taking life after life around him, and has literally destroyed the entire fabric of society in Sierra Leone and the surrounding countries.  Everything has stopped.  Food, jobs, no one can touch anyone, nothing can be moved around the country or in and out of it really either.  There is only the food you can grow, and the salvation of hope.  An entire population being taught to fear touching another person...

Yet throughout this, Yapo is sending picture after picture, story after story, of what life is like on the ground dealing with Ebola.  Orphans, ambulances, quarantined people, even the dead.  Whatever it takes to have the story told.  But not just to get the story out, but because he is trying to affect local change.  To stop Ebola there in Makeni.  He has been on the front lines trying to make this better, better for all of us.  These are some of his pictures:

Suspected large scale contamination of a village...
A recent orphan...
A little girl being taken to isolation...
A women headed for quarantine...
All of that work came under a different light this morning though.  I got a message from him in his typical humble fashion.
"Tim sorry, i might not be able to followup with the documentary thing for now, because i have some fever, though not too severe for now, they might put me under isolation for observation."
Like somehow the documentary is more important than his fever.  Of course to him it is, because the documentary is a way to get people throughout the rest of the world to know and care about what is happening in West Africa.  The fact that he might have Ebola and a better than not chance of dying doesn't seem as important.  Amazing, the will and heart of some people...


Wooo!!!  Update!!!  paused to check phone and he just got the test back, Typhoid fever!!  No Ebola!!  He will have to be admitted to the hospital for three days, but should be ok after some antibiotics.  Never would I have thought I'd be glad that a friend of mine has a disease that kills 200,000 people per year globally, but with antibiotics and a few days he should be fine.  With Ebola, there is no cure, and in this outbreak 60-70% of people with it are dying (compared to .09% fatality rates with Typhoid).

This has been a very scary morning.  A morning that happened to me here in the US just today, but that is happening to the everyone in West Africa everyday right now, every day.  As people die though, we do so little.  Our governments send small contingents of 300 or 600 people, old medical supplies, and pay it lip service.  Only when a man dies in Dallas and his nurses or a nurse in Spain catch the disease do we really stand up an start to take notice.  People claiming Ebola is fear-mongering, the next disease said to be - but that won't be - a threat.  Yes, maybe not to you today, but an entire region of the world is being devastated by it.  And if we don't stop it there, it will make its way here.....              

Recent Orphans... 
Yapo when I was there...
Yapo and I trying to make some bricks!

Taking its toll

Powerful Commentary from Sierra Leone:

"Friends, these days you need much more than courage to carry on here. You wake up in the morning , turn your  tv on, the news is about ebola deaths, images of body bags, mass burial and scary projections nothing to smile about. You turn the radio on , the news is about health workers on strike, burial  team, misuse of ebola funds, corruption and some politicians that are mocking their people even during the outbreak. Food prices coutinue to go up , more businesses are folding up and our way of life totally affected. You don't  know who to trust. Your son or your wife ? In the public transport or your grilfriend might even be your free ticket to the disease. You saw a friend loose his whole family to the disease, your next door neighbors are quarantine. And you ask yourself, who is next? Schools are closed; on leisure activities and the figures for new cases continue to go up . You count yourself very lucky to return home safe everyday without any hitch even as we put up brave face but the truth is that we are living in constant fear.  This is Sierra Leone for u today! Am I lying?��

Leh God sorry 4 we ya!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Militarized Expansion

"BREAKING NEWS: Ebola confirmed among S/L army battalion (LEOBATT 2) on standby for deployment to Somalia. D entire battalion to b quarantine today.credit Umaru fofana"

The last safe place from Ebola?

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
"A village in koinadugu is said to have recorded 20 unexplained deaths. Fakoya village in Nenie Chiefdom has been quarantined and blood samples collected for ebola tests to ascertain whether the reported deaths are ebola related. If the results prove positive it will be the first time the virus has gotten its way to Koinadugu district which remains the only district without the virus."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The many faces of Ebola

Reports of a "Riot in Freetown. Okada riders are now attacking police officers or vehicle with police officers..."

Cuba's coming to help

Ebola updates:

"165 Cuban Medical Brigade comprising 63 doctors and 102 nurses was this morning formally received by the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakar Fofana in a ceremony held at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Also at the Ceremony were the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation 1, Mr Foday Sawi, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Brima Kargbo; the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, Mrs Ebun Strasser-King and the Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman, Mr Abdulai Bayraytay from the Government of Sierra Leone and the Ambassadors of China, Cuba and Ghana from the Diplomatic Community. The Ambassador and leaders of the medical brigade paid a courtesy call on the President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House after the ceremony. The Cuban medical personnel will be deployed at the Western Area and Port Loko district, according to the Chief Medical Officer."

"Gbasay Koroma a football player died. This hapen fews days later after his mother kumba koroma died."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


"Sierra Leone gets 30 brand new deluxe  ambulances, 14 already arrived at the Freetown International airport, Lungi on Tuesday morning 7th October 2014 @ 3:43am with the remaining to land at the same time on Thursday; plus 20 utility/hearse vehicle 18 already supplied on purchase by the Transport and Aviation Ministry which contracted a local company called Premier Logistics and Supplies ltd with international standard and capability.

All vehicles were air freighted in to the country to expedite delivery in the fight against the country's ebola epidemic."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Nurse after Nurse

"SIERRA LEONE: Ebola claims another Medic at Connaught Hospital Nurse Prince Vandy Koroma is the latest medical personnel that has succumbed to the Ebola epidemic disease at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown.Koroma who worked at the Out patients Department of the hospital contracted the disease a few days ago and was admitted at the Ebola Ward where he passed away this morning . He has since been buried.Koroma's colleagues say he was a very committed and dedicated to helping those who needed his services.Some of Koroma's colleague at the hospital have asked me to request all Sierra Leoneans and well wishers across the world to remember them in prayers.They are heavily traumatised and are also victims of discrimination.Meanwhile, reporters on the ground are also warning the people of Freetown to avoid Gbendembu, situated near Goderich where 10 people put on quarantine in one house have all died of the disease.N0.14 Richard Street near Sandas St in Freetown is another flash point that should be avoided.   Rest in peace nurse Koroma."

Back to the Ebola ABCs

Strong statements coming from a very religious country...
"WHICHEVER WAY YOU SLICE IT, PRAYER CANNOT CURE EBOLA " . STOP LAYING HANDS ON PEOPLE TO CURE EBOLA, CLERGY PLEADS     Monrovia - Rev. Father Ambrose Koromah of the St. Kizito Catholic Church parish has warned the religious leaders in Liberia against holding deliverance services at their various prayer centers with the intentions of curing people affected with Ebola. Father Kromah said continued attempts to heal people affected by Ebola by prayer services puts God to test and tantamount to destroying the much-needed united effort required in the fight against the Ebola Virus."

Treatment Centers

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
"49 survivers at the treatment centre in hasting took photo with President Koroma!!!

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has paid glowing tribute to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for the great work they have done, in spite of the huge deaths suffered by its staff to help contain the Ebola outbreak. He also commended the tireless efforts of the Sierra Leone Police and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces to get the treatment center, which is the largest countrywide,  up and running. 

The President described the activities of the treatment center as a turning point in the fight against the Ebola virus disease. 

President Koroma thanked God Almighty for sparing the lives of the 49 survivors. He urged them to take the news to thier communities and tell the story that if the symptoms are detected early enough, the chances of survival are high.

He also called on Sierra Leoneans to desist from stigmatizing patients discharged from Ebola as this will pay little or no dividend for the fight against EVD.

The President further appealed for more treatment centers and up to 1,000 beds to intensify this fight. "We know it is our role as a government to do these things but we want those who want to help us to hurry as time is not on our side," he said, and added that the Ebola fight is a fight for government and its development partners.

President Koroma encouraged all to continue the collaboration which had resulted into this ceremony being witnessed today.

Meanwhile, a dynamic group of young Sierra Leoneans from all works of life donated assorted provisions,  food stuff, sanitary pads and condoms worth over Le16 million to the 49 survivors, including the children."

Stiring up trouble

Ebola in Sierra Leone:

It apears this nytimes article is causing some problems...


The NEW YORK TIMES article is evidence of why I had to quit State House. Too many saboteurs who can smile to the President and stab him behind his back. Oswald Hanciles is one such person at State House. He surreptitiously aided to plant the article through his friend Adam Nossiter but made sure his name was never mentioned even as he incited against the President and so-called Makeni politics. I prefer to resign and criticise from the outside than stay inside and leak documents to NEW YORK TIMES like Oswald Hanciles and his likes are now doing.

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. "

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The ABC's of Ebola

Ebola: The rules for life in Sierra Leone.....

"Please don't forget the followings ABC, APC. AQH, AWDB, AEBM, TSHC, FHW,     ABC- Avoid  Body Contact.                  
APC- Avoid People's Compound.       
AQH- Avoid Quarantine Homes         
AWDB- Avoid Washing Dead Bodies   
AEBM- Avoid Eating Bush Meat        
TSHC- Take the Sick to Health Centres   
SSFR- Stop Spreading False Rumour 
FHW-  Freequent Hand Washing. 

If u can supply at least 2 of similar abbreviations like these above, God will surely bless u. May i here u say amen!! Brothers and sisters today is Sunday, we pray that EBOLA does not live to see more Sundays. Is someone there to answer amen? Ebola must go! I command u to leave now!! This prayer will only answer if we shout Amen/Ameen."

Saturday, October 4, 2014

African Union coming to save the day...

Tomorrow, Sunday 5 October, the African Union lead Ebola virus task force arrives in Sierra Leone to provide desperately needed help in the fight against the growing epidemic. Sierra Leone is one of the countries hit worst by the outbreak already having lead its government to undertake drastic measures - such as a complete lock down in September that lastedfor several days. http://bit.ly/1oGXCYZ

Friday, October 3, 2014


Ebola in Sierra Leone: "The courageous girl, a suspected Ebola victim entering the Ambulance to the holding center. Heading for the holding center." 

How Many Orphans will there be?

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
"Request from an Ophan child: Nurse I want to see my grand-mother said the eldest child, when would you take us to see my grand-mother? I want to see my grandmother she is staying at mayagba village. The younger child replied, no we should not go there because she is the only one left now, you want grandma to die? No we should stay here first till the Ebola ends they both agreed together sadly and accepted to stay in the holding center."

Ebola Orphans

Ebola in Sierra Leone: 
"Ophan children in the Makeni holding center, three of them are of the same father and with two different mothers, who both died as a result of ebola."

Getting Closer to Home

Ebola in Sierra Leone: 
"Looking town area makeni got the first suspected case of ebola, the child was abscunded from baio street in central makeni after two persons are dead in that house, the responce team was very fast to identify this and quickly taken to the referal center, the girl age 8yrs though, seems to have the gratest courage to enter the ambulance, she looks seek and week, please remember her in your daily prayers...."  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another Nurse Dies

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
"Breaking News Tuesday 30 Sept. 2014 Ebola Kills Staff Nurse at Jui
Her name is Lucy Sowa. She was a staff nurse working at the Ebola Isolation Unit at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown where she contracted the disease while trying to save other lives. Staff Sowa tested positive a couple of days ago and was rushed to the Ebola Holding Centre in Jui where she died last night. Staff Sowa used to work at the Emergency Hospital in Hamilton from where she responded to the call to serve her country in the fight against the Ebola epidemic disease at the Connaught Hospital. Staff Sowa had no time to talk to her family members before undertaking the trip to Jui. Her colleagues said she was already seriously ill and had no time to even take along some of her personal effects. Staff Sowa, I am told by her colleagues, was a highly dedicated nurse who ensured that her patients got the correct nursing care they needed. She has since been laid to rest. May her soul rest in perfect peace. May Allah admit her in heaven unconditionally." 

Makeni Updates

By Nat Taylor-kamara
As Bombali district continues to register an upward trend reporting on the number of Ebola victims, more and more unwanted occurrences continues to vulnerably violate, torture and live Residents astray to roam their world. In response to the unfortunate incident that saw an influx of people on the streets of Makeni few days ago- jubilating senselessly the end of the Ebola epidemic, the Resident Minister North of the Republic of Sierra Leone have yesterday in a press release banned all activities of commercial motorbike riding in the township and it immediate environs with immediate effect until further notice. This according to sources, the decision was as a result of the rumor that kept Makeni in maddness for hours-"Ebola don don" was believed to have been accelerated by the group in question as investigations continues. 
However, since the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone, commercial motorbike riding has been one of the vivid success stories of Youths reintegration and as well the commonly used means of transportation across the country of which Makeni is pivotal. A ban on this will obviously affect the daily activity facilitation by this sector as daily movements and other related issues will b haunted. The people are in a predicament: trapped in serfdom and exploited by an unknowing fate. Escape is hopelessly imagined. There seems to be no way out for our people but retribution. Children are in a state of deprivation, still dwelling beyond the shadows of reality, behind close doors, knowing that their futures has been tampered with. For them life can never be the same any more. The victims, however, are hypothetically to survive. We will live on to speak for the ones who are touched by this significant story. We shall transcend their misfortunes, the most of all their lonesome voices that silently emanate from the anguished souls.
God save mama because you are the only hope left, our assentors have failed us with impunity filled with impulses with no stopping points to seek redress."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Ebola: "This boy is an ophan whose parents both died shortly because of Ebola, his survival lies in the hands of his care giver." Hands that must be perpetually covered...... 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

False Jubilation

Ebola update... rough day in makeni sierra leone. Erant word of an end to ebola came out and people took to the streets dancing. Breaking the quarantine and no touching each other rules.. could be disasterous. But there is so much pent up need for something exciting, something to dance about, to hug someone about. Imagone being confined to you home indefinitely, to your room, not able to even touch anyone, hug your children or spouse, not to be able to comfort them if they get sick, or even put yoir hand on their shoulder. All human contact is basically forbidden...... imagine life like that. And then imagine starving on top of it. 
Here is a report on what happened today:
"This is what they said happen. The situation guys is under control. Some people were released today from quarantine in Makeni and because they came out clean of Ebola after the 21 days stipulated time, they started dancing and jubilating that Ebola is gone. Others joined in the celebration, including Okada riders who have a unique way of jubilating.
Interestingly, something similar to this happened on Saturday around the Grey Bush area in Freetown. Something is going on and we need to carefully monitor the situation.
Tune in to SLBC TV now as they are discussing the issue with their correspondent in the northern City of Makeni"

Their is such misunderstanding of the disease, the biology of such things in general... 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stolen Rice?!

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
The food situation is becoming dire. With the economy stopped and most of the country under restricted movement and/or quarantine, food and the means to buy it is greatly reduced. The below is a press release that appears to show that the ACC (anti-coruption commision) and the police taking food destined for quarantined areas.... sad. They need food.
Date: 28th September 2014
At about 20-21:00hrs on Saturday 27th September 2014, the ACC together with other stakeholders including the Sierra Leone Police and the Health For All Coalition (HFAC), intercepted two vehicles; a Salini Salcost vehicle with registration number ACW 443 driven by one John Sesay and a Toyota Land Cruiser with registration number 73CD24 driven by one Edith J. Kargbo of WFP.
At the time of interception around Watson Street, Masuba, in the Makeni Township, the suspects were actively involved at odd hours contrary to WFP operational procedures transferring 50kg bags of rice from the truck to the WFP Toyota Land Cruiser. A total of 69bags of rice were found in the Salcost vehicle, while 16 bags, which is about 800kgs of rice, were loaded in the WFP vehicle, purportedly for distribution to quarantined homes. The exercise was taking place in the absence of other members of the EOC.
The Makeni Police Division, headed by LUC G.M Turay, the ACC and ONS are investigating the matter. Meanwhile, the drivers of the two vehicles, the DMO, the District Nutritionist and the WFP Programme Assistant in the region, Mahmood Kamara, are helping the Police with the investigations.

Sign: ……………………………….. Sign:…………………………………..
Patrick Sandi, Deputy Director, ASP Ibrahim Samura
Public Education and Outreach Department Head of Media and Public Relations
Anti-Corruption Commission Sierra Leone Police

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Os to Os

Ebola in Sierra Leone:
"Just now: 11 homes to have been under quarantining are still not quarantined in lunsar. The blood samples results from the 21st to date indicates 11 homes in lunsar had confirmed ebola patients some of whom are undergoing treatment whiles other are dead. When I spoke with the CHO in lunsar this morning he said they are only waiting on the availability of food before they can start the quarantining of these homes. He acknowledged the fact that they posed a very serious threat now in the community to spreading the virus since they are unrestrictively moving all and about. 
It could also be recalled the stake holders in this community are still to account for 300 bags of rice giving them for the disabled and quarantined homes before the ose to ose sensitization program."


"The situation in Sierra Leone is very worse; we are still calling on your help. Many people here now just don't die because of Ebola Disease but hunger as well. From all indications and preventive measures, one of the grounded rules is to Avoid Body Contact which involves less or no interaction with people, many people are dead and hundreds hospitalised with very crucial conditions. Few days back from 19th to 21st September, 2014. Government enacted a three days lock down nationwide as a strategy to reduce the spread of the disease and contain the virus. Speaking with coach Eto a local football coach here in Makeni, he told me for the rest of the three days he and his five children and wife survived with two cups of rice each day when they use to eat five cups each day, ''my family is unhealthy, my wife is sick, and our hunger might result to Ebola because when one is sick, the symptoms of Ebola shows, I am a Football coach, it is my occupation, it is my where I do survive, but now all Soccer activities have been suspended. Where could I earn money for me and my family? I don't Know, I am calling on the help of generous people so I can survive.
This story is very similar to most people (street children, polio persons, leprosy patient and many more others).
Aibia-Salone is kindly requesting assisting from generous people like you to provide food and water for these vulnerable persons.
We have an account with details as follows;
Bank Name: Guaranty Trust Bank (SL) Ltd
Name of Account: Aibia-Salone
Account Number: 3502410110"




901/10017/002/5033/00 USD 
901/10017/003/5033/00 GBP 
901/10017/0046/5033/00 EUR

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sierra Leone: "25 Sept 3 Dead 75 new cases. Last 5 days (Sun 21 to Thur 25) 251 new cases. World Bank doubles Ebola Aid to $ 400m (new $ 170m). New China Mobile Bio-Safety Level III Lab arrives to start work in 3 days (Awoko)"

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Ebola update from Sierra Leone: 
"Sierra Leone has ordered the quarantine "with immediate effect" of three districts and
12 tribal chiefdoms - affecting more than one million people - in the largest lockdown in West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak. President Ernest Bai Koroma, in a national televised address, announced that the northern districts of Port Loko and Bombali were to be closed off along with the southern district of Moyamba - effectively sealing off around 1.2 million people. With the eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun already under quarantine, more than a third of the population, in five of the nation's 14 districts, now finds itself unable to move freely.  "The isolation of districts and chiefdoms will definitely pose great difficulty but the lives of everyone and the survival of our country takes precedence over these difficulties," Mr Koroma said. "These are trying moments for everyone in the country." The deadliest Ebola epidemic on record has infected almost 6,000 people in West Africa and killed nearly half of them, according to the World Health Organisation's latest figures. The virus can fell its victims within days, causing rampant fever, severe muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and – in many cases – unstoppable internal and external bleeding."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The real cost of Ebola

Wow.. a truly moving and astute take on the real toll of Ebola. "imagine: You are a parent whose child has suddenly come ill with a fever. Do you cast your child away and refuse to touch him? Do you cover your face and your arms? Stay back! Unclean! Or do you comfort your child when he asks for you, arms outstretched, to make the pain go away?"


Saturday, September 20, 2014

A final walk...

What happens to this women? She's suspected to have Ebola... probably dead within a few days. If she had decent food, fluids, and medical attention she might make, maybe. But without that she's simply paraded through the city by some protected head to toe for people to take pictures of.... how long we will allow this to go on?


I just got another message from my partner in sierra leone. They need help desperatly. "the situation in Sierra Leone is becoming worse even though government is trying there best to contain the Ebola Virus yet a lot of problems still stands, many are hungry with no food and water and peoples movement restricted, no market activities and food government cant provide we're seeking donations to help people with food and water, people especially the physically challenge (polio persons, blind, leprosy patient) and street children please help us provide food for people." We can help them. If anyone can help with even 5, 10, 20 dollars we can get some food for people. You can donate a couple dollars at www.walkinglion.org and click on the donate button on the right hand side. Im going to send whatever we can get straight to them hopefully tomorrow, but its easier/better to send one large sum as it costs for each transfer... please help. And please "like" this and write comments so more people will see it... 


Will this be as high as we get?

 As we speak an epidemic is surging through west Africa.  it is spreading incredibly quickly and has no cure.  Ebola is leaving a trail of dead bodies in its wake and is only a matter of time before it spreads beyond "the dark continent" and into our living rooms.  As most people that read this blog know, I spent some time there and helped to set up a community based organization called "aibia".  The name for this came from playing with the Chinese words (bo ai) for "universal love", a concept espoused by Mozi nearly 2500 years ago in ancient China.  It would seem like a simple concept, to create a political and economic system based on a universal caring and respect for all human beings, a system based on us viewing all others as if they were our brother or sister, mother or father, husband or wife.  Would we let our sister go hungry?  Would we let our mother die of Ebola?  No we would not.

I want to see this building that we started be completed...    

We are building an office and community center for our organization.  A structure intended to be a place for us to have meetings, voice grievances, create and incubate businesses, teach both marketable and enjoyable skills, arts, computers, etc.  A place for people to go engage with others and build community.  

But this will never happen if everyone working on it, or that could use it, dies.  And that is where we are headed right now.  An entire population of people is at risk of death.  Ebola carries with it a 90% fatality rate and is transferred simply through human to human contact.

Basically, we need to pay attention.  We need to realize that we can make a difference both with Ebola and in helping marginalized people gain a voice in their own lives and for their communities. Please help by donating even the smallest amount.  Just click on the donate button on the right hand side of this website and we will transfer the money in bulk amounts so we can save money on transfer fees.  Please help.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ebola in Makeni

As most of you know, I was in Sierra Leone a couple years ago and helped set up a community based organization. We continue to try to bring change to the region we work in, but everything has been put on hold right now due to the ebola outbreak. I wanted to share a first hand account of how dire the situation is there from my partner there:
"The situation in Sierra Leone is getting worse every day. Worse is that the outbreak in most Cities in Sierra Leone is very much high that it has taken government concentration and those rural communities are getting extremely vulnerable. on Saturday the Magbenteh Community Hospital, I believe we visited there when you came to Sierra Leone (the hospital built with the Hydroform bricks) was quarantined after a suspected case of Ebola, 6 nurses and 21 patient where suspected and all 6 nurses positive, 11 patient positive after the test result was out. on Monday yesterday three nurses already dead and two patient dead.
I am calling on your urgent intervention to complement government effort in the fight against Ebola. The virus is almost all in the District in Sierra Leone now except Koinadugu District. The other truth is that the disease have spread so wide that government cannot handle it now and some reports on Ebola are not made known to government because people do not want their relatives to be buried like poppers in plastics.
Two Hospital facilities in Makeni have already been closed because of the intense outbreak there. All our lives are at risk, traveling have been restricted, high inflation of food commodities, and most homes go with only one meal a day, imagine a country whose majority population goes with less than $1UD a day. everything is horrible here."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Usti nad Labem

I went up to Usti nad Labem on the train – took about an hour from Prague.  There were trains ever hour or so and different express and local versions.  The quality of the trains was much better than it used to be here.  The type that makes me think that you could easily commute comfortably, it was surprising.  Air conditioning, plugs, tables, all new.  I sprawled my Czech language stuff out on the desk and studied for an hour.  The topography changes about 40-45 minutes into the trip from rolling hills and flat agro/foresty stuff similar to Hudson Valley (New York) type mountainy terrain.  Maybe a little steeper, but I was on the river so seemed similar to the Hudson in between Poughkeepsie and Peekskill.  The river was narrower though (the Labe, or Elbe).  There were occasional castles on the mountain tops and houses all along the river.  It obviously is a well-populated region and for good reason.  It was very nice on a perfect 70 degree and sunny day on the water.

When I got to Usti, I was very curious to see what it would be like.  If you listened to the Czechs I spoke to prior, it was going to be a dismal smelly industrial wasteland full of dark skinned, poverty level communists.  Oh wait…. No, not at all.  My one friend Shaft, who went to school there had very positive things to say about it.  The typical type of stuff you here about US cities with bad reputations from anyone who has spent time there.  “It is fine, it's nice, you just have to be careful about where you go and when…”  Basically, there are some dangerous places, as with most cities.
I walked at length around the city center and certainly there were more “dark skinned” people (Roma) than I am used to seeing in Prague, and a grittier component, but I was definitely NOT the only white person as was foretold.  It was basically to me a blue collar city with a solid industrial foundation/heart.  Maybe on the right day/with the right weather it is tough and smoggy, but it didn’t seem like it to me on this day.  The park towards the top of the hill was a bit in need of care and a good lawn mow, but so does Washington park in Newark!  Everything is always subjective as to bad and good…  If people from Prague came to Newark and saw the falling down houses they might think Usti was heaven.  I think there is definitely something to research further there in these perceptions, subjectivities, and prejudices.  Next weekend I’d like to go to Liberec and see what that is all about.  Even asking the same people for their thoughts to compare. 
Somebody thinks it needs to be cleaned up!
After wandering around and taking lots of pictures, I started heading towards the football game I was going to watch.  It was quite further than expected – hence the hurting feet – but a very nice walk by most measures.  I walked across a rain bridge then along the river on a bike/walking path/park that goes all throughout the region and into Germany.  There is a tremendous amount of hiking and biking opportunities in the area.  I was very impressed.
Then I got to the football game… are you kidding me?!?!  For the fifteen years that I have now been involved in the Czech Republic I had always hoped, longer for, wanted, dreamed about what I saw that day.  I turned the corner and there was an American football game in Usti nad Labem, CZ.  There were two teams with 20 plus players on both sides, there was easily 200 fans there and countless cyclists and rollerbladers poking in to check it out.  The city was obviously aware, and even interested.  It might be that these smaller cities are the places to work on the game, not Prague where there are a million other things to do. 
The fans were into it and even seemed to know a little bit of what was going on.  The football was solid enough.  Certainly as compared to what I used to see in my time there.  When I left in 2008 there were 9 teams.  There are 23 now.  The entire league was simply dominated by two teams from Prague and everyone else simply got beat up by them and then played each other even enough depending on the year.  The talent on the field was not much different than many of these teams from back then.  And here we were at the semifinal of the third division (which plays seven person a side football), and the number four seed beat the number 1 seed.  Never would have seen parody like that ten years ago.  I remember my first season in Prague we were 1-5 with three cancelled games due to not enough players.  We were trying at times to play 11 on 11 with 20 guys. You simply can’t do it.  And that is in a city of 1.2 million people.  But you can play 7 on 7.  It works, and it works in smaller cities.  The game is more accessible, and the teams are developing.  The Usti team, was running the “pistol” formation and incorporating a lot of wing T styled misdirection with intricate timing (intricate and difficult to master if you’re not taking it seriously).  I was quite impressed.  And more realistically, felt really proud.  All the work that I had done with those kids and guys in the Czech Republic while I was there, and Friday night I had long conversations with them as men, and then went and watched a game that was on the whole leaps and bounds from where we were a decade ago.  It was a great feeling.  I basically taught the guys that are coaching now how to catch the ball, not to mention the game itself – and from what they told me – a lot about life as well.  AND on top of all of that, off the field they had created an event.  Beer, noisemakers, food, entertainment, all these things that I spent years trying to make the Lions games into in Prague, and a three year old team in a city of 98,000 in north Bohemia had it!  There were announcers and teaching moments – only two cheerleaders though.  But they seemed to have embraced the entertainment and business side that I had pushed so much.  Amazing.
All that being said, I am here as an anthropologist!  So should get back to it!  I talked for a bit after the game with a guy from the other team.  Got contact info and hopefully will be able to reconnect and find a way in through football if need be.  It is my ticket to wherever I want to be in this country should I need it. Otherwise, the city was really interesting.  I am really intrigued both by its reality and its reputation.  There is a strong working class feel… so what about collective bargaining, labor rights, and unions?  There is a race relations and prejudice issue with rumors and realities colliding.  Not to mention, a poverty, inequality, opportunities, and political bent to it all, especially when coupled with a boot straps mentality in Prague.  How are people there imagining their lives and the answers to the issues they face? Especially the political and economic issues?  Are they organizing?  Imagining?  If so how?  It will be an interesting place to explore for the future.