Asked to speak at her church about Ebola, a young girl talks to her deceased brother, who succumbed to the disease.
“What do I tell you if you’ve never seen the sickness, never seen the signs? Never seen the terrible things this Ebola can do to those we love?” she asks.
The first video, “Ebola: A Poem for the Living,” was released in October 2014 at the height of the Ebola crisis in West Africa. That video was created to dispel myths about how Ebola spreads and how to avoid contracting it. The new video emphasizes prevention through proper hygiene.
“It’s meant to address a population that wasn’t still in crisis but needed vigilance to prevent future crises,” said the Rev. Neelley Hicks, director of United Methodist Communications’ ICT4D (Information and Communications Technology for Development) Church Initiatives.
“UNICEF Togo contacted UMCom and asked for a follow-up video, with a greater emphasis on hand-washing and avoiding bush meat,” Hicks said. “The health community had learned so much more about Ebola since the first video and wanted to address other issues. We should be using human networks for lifesaving information, and that’s what this piece does.”
The video, which is being distributed throughout Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and other African countries, was translated into English and French, with additional languages and dialects planned. View and download free at ebolavideo.org.
“This video helps fill an information gap, and in formats the local population can access easily. It’s able to reach non-readers by being broadcast on TV and radio,” Hicks said.
“A Poem for the Living” and its accompanying resources received widespread attention, with an estimated 250,000 people in four districts in Sierra Leone alone receiving the information and more than 1 million viewing online.
According to the World Health Organization, raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Although many countries are now declared Ebola-free, the risk remains for more outbreaks if preventative steps are not taken.
“This very attractive film is an important contribution in fighting rumors and misconceptions about the disease and will be able to reach a large audience, including children,” said Dr. Isselmou Boukhary, UNICEF Representative in Togo.
Firdaus Kharas, founder of Chocolate Moose Media and creator of the video, agreed.
“The success of this animated video will be measured by something not happening: the next outbreak of Ebola. We know we can prevent diseases like Ebola from ever occurring on a wide scale by mass education on preventative methods,” Kharas said.
Kharas shared a story about recently being at a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where there was a panel on Ebola. One of the panelists mentioned a video that made her cry when she saw it and motivated her to recruit 2,000 people to pull it up on their phones and share to others. It was “A Poem for the Living.”
Kharas said when he told the woman he had created the video, “I got an emotional hug.”
“Once in a while we get to know that we’ve done good,” he said.
*Butler is a multimedia editor/producer for United Methodist Communications. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].