Actor Idris Elbas partners with aid agency GOAL on Covid-19 awareness in Sierra Leone

Actor Idris Elbas partners with aid agency GOAL on Covid-19 awareness in Sierra Leone

A GOAL team member teaching a community in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the merits of good handwashign as part of Covid-19 awareness.

Freetown City Council (FCC) and international humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, have joined together to launch a campaign to reach millions of vulnerable people in Sierra Leone with vital Covid-19 prevention messaging.

The campaign will see the launch of five two-minute information videos, the first to be aired on four Sierra Leonean television channels starting Friday December 4. The videos will also be circulated on social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube, whilst audio episodes of the series will be broadcast on local radio stations.

Produced with the support of Idris Elba and his London-based production company, Green Door Pictures, working with Sierra Leone production company Eminence Africa, this unique collaboration is harnessing drama, technology, and emergency response experience to reach every single home in Sierra Leone. The video and audio episodes contain key messages and actions for Covid-19 prevention and control including the importance of social distancing, good hygiene and wearing of face masks.

Elba’s team worked closely with Freetown City Council and international humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, on the series which are a mix of animation and film. Sierra Leonean actors were used and a local production company, Eminence Africa, filmed on site in Freetown.

The videos include two animation characters Bola (representing the Ebola virus which hit Sierra Leone in 2014) and Rona (representing the Coronavirus). Bola is encouraging Rona to be the “better” virus, stressing how the Coronavirus has potential to be far more devastating than the Ebola outbreak which killed over 1,500 people.

The campaign is supporting the “Transform Freetown Agenda” being driven by the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, and will complement the FCC Covid-19 response plan.  The video story lines are drawn from all walks of life including homes, offices, communities, and street corners.

As of November 25 there were 2,406 confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in 16 districts in Sierra Leone, with 74 deaths. Freetown and its hinterland continue to be the epicentres for the outbreak in Sierra Leone. 

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak the Government of Sierra Leone introduced a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the country, including a ban on mass gatherings, (now partially lifted), promotion of social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks in public.

GOAL, an international humanitarian relief and development agency has been working in Sierra Leone since 1999. GOAL is a trusted key health partner in Sierra Leone and has been working with national government on Covid-19 preparedness and response activities across eight districts including Western Area Urban, Kenema, Moyamba, Koinadugu, Falaba, Bombali, Kerene and Kambia districts. GOAL’s partners in Freetown include FCDO, the UK Governments international aid agency. To date it has reached 3,950,294 people through the media and 205,584 with Covid-19 awareness from direct contact messaging.

GOAL has first-hand experience in infectious disease control in Sierra Leone having played a central role in the 2014 Ebola response developing the Community Led Action (CLA) approach to tackling the spread of the disease. This approach is being adopted by Ministry of Health & Sanitation in Sierra Leone as a social mobilisation approach to tackling the spread of Covid-19. 

Idris Elba said today: “I am delighted to be part of this transformative and urgently needed partnership and campaign that seeks to protect the most vulnerable people using the power of drama, technology and humanitarian experience. Sierra Leone is very close to my heart as it is the country where my father was born and grew up. One of my proudest moments was when I received citizenship of Sierra Leone last December, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to make my first visit to the country.”

“I feel invested in Sierra Leone and want to be part of the efforts for its rejuvenation and rebranding. I have made a commitment to give back in any way I can, and the campaign with GOAL and Freetown City Council is one positive way in which I can support and help make a difference. “

The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, said: “This is a unique collaboration between Freetown City Council, GOAL and Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures to help protect communities from the threat of COVID-19.

“The episodes are tailored to educate all Freetonians to be committed to improve Freetown. The city deserves better and we all need to embrace our flaws, ignite our passion and build on our strength to make our city great.”

 She added; “There are many issues affecting Freetown and certain practices and behaviors have developed that are damaging our city. Some people are ignorant of the law, others choose to take chances.  I am passionate about building a coalition of Freetonians who together will take ownership to transform our city. I had the pleasure of meeting Idris Elba and his wife last December and I know he is also passionate about Sierra Leone where his father grew up. We are proud to be working with him and with GOAL on this campaign.”

GOAL Sierra Leone Country Director, Gashaw MeKonnen, said: “We are honored that Idris Elba and his team have collaborated with Freetown City Council and GOAL in the fight against Covid-19 in Sierra Leone. The impact of this unique partnership is transformative. We thank Idris Elba for his generosity, passion and commitment to this life-saving campaign. Our goal is to reach every single household and our hope is that the campaign will help educate people and inform behaviour changes that will save lives.”

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