SPARK IGNITE: Kriterion Monrovia Raises Awareness on Ebola in Liberia
*Written by Varbah Duncan SPARK’s Finance Officer in Monrovia, Liberia
Kriterion Monrovia (KM), an NGO run exclusively by students in the Liberian capital, was inspired by the student-run Kriterion in the Netherlands. Supported by SPARK’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme, KM has established itself as an independent art-house cinema with a focus on local culture. Usually KM screens art house movies and organizes cultural events. But since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease, KM has given its full attention to awareness-raising campaigns and activities.
Ebola is spreading like wildfire. The government did not do enough initially to prevent the disease. They are doing more now, but the public is also suffering from their own denial. For many Liberians, Ebola is not real. And, sadly, even those who accept the disease as real oftentimes distance themselves from the potential for infection by reasoning: Ebola is not here for me, so I can do as I want.
With time, Liberians saw that the disease is ruthless and holds no prejudice. We watched Ebola kill the rich and the poor alike and we saw doctors and nurses who were fighting to save lives lose their own life. It took the life of the former Miss Liberia. It even came for our babies. As Liberians, we have begun to accept that Ebola doesn’t come for special people. It is the product of a simple equation: contact equals contraction.
It was the disease’s brutality that convinced KM to spread awareness to communities in all Liberian languages and local dialects. KM’S campaigns deal with Ebola’s: origins, causes, symptoms, preventive methods, and actions to adopt when symptoms arise.
KM has been going house-to-house spreading information on the Ebola disease. They have taken their awareness campaigns to universities, marketplaces, towns, and villages in fifteen counties in Liberia. But sometimes stories work better than facts. KM is also using theatre and documentaries to get the point across. In essence, they are using real stories of Ebola cases to communicate the reality of the Ebola disease to all Liberians.
KM’s main achievements have been generating an increase in the acceptance of the disease and an increase in the reporting of suspected cases. It should also be noted that knowledge of prevention methods are sustained in the long-term, making an outbreak less likely in the future.
Please consider donating to help KM fight the spread of Ebola in Liberia. You can donate and find further information on how funds will be spent on this website. As I work for SPARK in the Monrovia office, I know the KM’s founder Pandora Hodge personally and can confidently say she is a dedicated and honest person. Her details can be found on the donation website and I encourage you to contact her if you have any questions or suggestions.
Ebola has become a song on the lips of so many and sometimes we just make a joke about it and tell our friends “Hey no shaking hands” or “Please, I don’t need a hug until Ebola is gone.” We try to laugh and say it is good that Ebola is in town so that our husbands/boyfriends stay home with us and the kids. But the reality remains: Ebola is real and it is killing us faster than we think.
KM: “The truth is, we are all tired, but will continue to work, to fight, so that we can live, touch and embrace each other as human relations are meant to be.”
SPARK IGNITE is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, on relevant topics in the news, stories from the fields, and what inspire us to do what we do. We welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]spark-online.org.