The new innovative multimedia campaign in West Africa, #IsurvivedEbola, has launched an interactive mobile application that enables people who have survived Ebola to connect with each other, share public health advises and also share the challenges they face during their post-recovery phase.
The pioneering digital tool made its first appearance in Guinea on January 5 this year. It is being piloted by the first Guinean survivor to share her story with the #ISurvivedEbola campaign. The updates from the application can be found on the newly launched #ISurvivedEbola website (http://www.isurvivedebola.org), which also contains stories of a growing community of Ebola survivors from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The very first message sent via the mobile application was by Camara "Fanta" Fantaoulen of Guinea, which was in French, stated, "Yes, I survived Ebola, thanks to the help of the brave healthcare workers who treated me. And I've learned that together, we can defeat this virus and protect our families and communities." Ms. Fanta believed that her death was imminent when she tested positive for the virus and also had lost her father and five other family members to suspected or confirmed Ebola. Fortunately, she recovered from the dreaded disease, thanks to a combination of early treatment, strict adherence to her treatment plan and sheer determination. She is now providing psycho-social support to Ebola patients.
The mobile application is the latest factor of the #ISurvivedEbola campaign, which unites survivor stories from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to deliver vital public health information about Ebola to affected populations, and to reduce the stigma that Ebola survivors face. An important method used by the campaign is by documenting survivor stories in video, audio and print formats; then circulate these stories broadly through local, national, and international media, online platforms, and other distribution channels. Educational radio dramas that tell fictional yet reality-based stories of survival, and radio call-in shows that feature Ebola survivors as guests, are among the equally important campaign activities.
The project is funded by Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Productions in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. #ISurvivedEbola is part of the #TackleEbola initiative and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation's commitment of at least $100 million for Ebola relief. The campaign is put into practice by PCI Media Impact in collaboration with UNICEF.
Ms. Carole Tomko, General Manager and Creative Director of Vulcan Productions, says, "The mobile app really changes the face of this campaign by empowering the people of West Africa to share stories about Ebola and survivorship with each other and the world. The app gives a human face to survivorship and has the potential to create a sense of community in which the survivors, rather than being stigmatized, become leaders and heroes in this fight. The new digital components of the campaign extend our reach beyond West Africa, allowing these very moving, personal stories to be seen and heard globally."
Currently, campaign staffs in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are providing a smartphone installed with the app to each survivor who has shared his or her story through the campaign, thus enabling these individuals to use the technology to share information about their lives after recovery. The smartphones provided and the application developed was done so with support from the charity fundraising website GlobalGiving. Campaign staffs expect survivors in all three countries to commence utilizing the application within two weeks. The updates will be shared globally on the newly launched #ISurvivedEbola website.