Maika Skjonjberg was speaking on Wednesday 13th March, 2019, during a one-day workshop hosted by Sierra Leone Red Cross Society with the theme: Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) for Post Ebola Virus Disease Recovery Green Response Project. The event took place at Red Cross branch, Pultney Street in Freetown.
She went on to state that the Swedish Red Cross is also impressed with the work of the SLRCS and its volunteers that continue to work enthusiastically round the clock under trying circumstances and without stipends to see improvement in their respective communities, adding that, this too is a huge success for the SLRCS. She said that even though the budget to implement this project was minimal, the positive outcomes of the project are huge.
She ended by reading a statement from the head of the Swedish Red Cross (SRC) branch responsible for West and Central Africa, citing that the SWC is extremely pleased with this SLRCS project that it has been supporting for three years now.
Giving an overview power-point presentation of the Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) for Post Ebola Virus Disease Recovery Green Response Project, the SLRCS Community Engagement and Accountability Manager, Stella A. Tucker took the participants through three years (2017-2019) of planning, implementation and evaluation of this project, adding that the main reason for the research conducted by Green Response with funding by Swedish Red Cross, in collaboration with the SLRCS, was to see whether the use of chemicals and other technology had any negative impact on the environment.
She said during the process, baseline surveys were conducted in seven new districts namely Kenema, Kono, Kambia, Bombali, Moyamba, Koinadugu and the Western urban in 2018. She went on to say that throughout the process, they were able to learn more about the prevailing issues on Ebola and disseminate correct information to the community people so that they would be well-equipped to contend with any future health outbreaks.
Among the successes achieved during the survey according to Stella Tucker included allaying the fears about Ebola; rebuilding trust between the community and health workers; reducing stigma around Ebola survivors; getting people to summon courage to begin using former Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) spots such as fields for recreational purposes; helping to change health-seeking behaviors; and encouraging community ownership of project activities among several other successes she outlined. She added that another important factor is that SLRCS volunteers are now more empowered to continue volunteer work while they are engaged in subsistence farming to upkeep themselves and their families.
She maintained that though there are still challenges, she is optimistic that with more support from their partners like International Federation of Red Cross/Crescent (IFRC), Swedish Red Cross (SRC) and Finnish Red Cross (FRC) and other interested parties, the work of the SLRSC would be more sustained and relevant.
Earlier, SLRCS Secretary General, Kpawuru Sandy welcomed the participants saying he was happy that the SLRCS is meeting with its partners and other parties to evaluate work done so far and to chart the way forward. He commended the IFRC, SWR, FRC and other partners for their assistance to the SLRCS over the years. Other speakers included a representative from FRC, the SLRCS Branch Coordinator Samuel Toma Parker who chaired the event while making poignant interjections to spur open and frank dialogue. Willie Sylvanus Collier, SLRCS PRO added his voice saying that the importance of the session is for SLRCS and its partners to discuss the issues affecting their work positively and negatively and to see how they could coordinate their activities for better implementation and evaluation.
Present at the workshop were representatives from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and authorities from various non-governmental organizations including those working closely with the SLRCS.