Sierra Leone

Celebrating 3 years of Amplifying Voices in Freetown

HCR joins with the Amplifying Voices through SALT Project in Sierra Leone to celebrate 3 years of strengthening communities and locally generated action with a big vision for the future.

BBN and community volunteers celebrate 3 years of AVS, Freetown, Jan 2019. (HCR UK, 2019)

BBN and community volunteers celebrate 3 years of AVS, Freetown, Jan 2019. (HCR UK, 2019)

There is much to celebrate! The project is actively working in 7 communities in Freetown with a strong group of volunteers from the community, clinic and the churches who regularly meet with people in their homes and their communities to listen to and appreciate their concerns, their hopes and their strengths. This way of working is generating positive local actions by the community themselves. People are seeing their potential and ability to create change in their own lives and community not waiting for outside help to fix everything. In three years we have witnessed tangible, measurable and material changes including pipe borne water, feeder road construction and community centre construction. Some intangible changes though significant have been improved dialogue between stakeholders, stronger participation in community projects and improved social capital of the community volunteers we work with. Through drama and magazine programmes on radio, our local partner, Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN) is amplifying the stories from these communities to highlight what people care about, to generate further action by other key people and encourage other communities to have hope.

With HCR, BBN is going deeper.  Ransford Wright, CEO of BBN says:

We have started going further and engaged in our first community meetings. We are moving into the next phase and we have a big vision where we will reach further and deeper. With our communities we want to bring out the more hidden voices in our community, we want to address poverty and build community cohesion.

BBN (Believers Broadcast Network) is a large Christian Radio Station and counselling centre working with churches, local people and health facilities to strengthen people’s resilience, health and well- being by promoting effective engagement with service providers and using the radio to amplify Voices in the Local Community. SALT is an acronym meaning Strength, Amplify, Listen and Transformation. The project was started to support post Ebola recovery by promoting healing after the epidemic.

 

Amplifying Voices

Day 15 of #16DaysofActivism

By Stephanie Mooney

The Amplifying Voices Project was set up in 2015 as a collaborative venture between Feba UK, HCR and the Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN), a Christian radio station in Freetown.  BBN forms multi-stakeholder teams with partners including churches and local health clinics to visit people in their households and local communities and listen deeply to their stories, challenges, hopes and concerns.

These conversations with people feed directly back into radio programmes developed and broadcast by BBN. There is a twice-weekly show called Amplify that uses and responds to community voices and there is also a monthly radio drama produced to deal with sensitive issues identified such as sexual violence, rape, teenage pregnancy and ‘sugar daddy’ relationships. 

Listeners and those involved in the visits see themselves as agents of change. The conversations shared and issues raised in the radio broadcasts are leading the community to take practical action to protect women and girls. 

Scarcity of water and the vulnerability of girls collecting water were identified as major concerns, as men targeted girls and this was linked to high levels of teenage pregnancy. Djibrillah, a team member, said: ‘Girls used to go to the streams to collect water.  Water Tanks were installed so now this has reduced the need to fetch water and this has reduced teenage pregnancy.’ In another community they put in streetlights to improve the security for women and girls.

The project is also helping women and girls in relation to education and employment. A radio journalist and counsellor involved in the project said the following about *‘Patience’, a regular listener to the Amplify programme: ‘She was a lady who thought everything was lost and was intimidated by education.  Now she is very engaged. We encourage them and let them know they have something inside of them. All is not lost. She is about to complete her education.’ 

By working with the community to improve the safety and security of women and girls and to encourage them into education and employment, this work is having a transformative impact on the lives of people in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

*Not her real name

Amplifying Voices Project team members on their way to visit a community in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Amplifying Voices Project team members on their way to visit a community in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Amplifying Voices

Day 3 of #16DaysofActivism

By Stephanie Mooney

HCR is working with a large Christian Radio station and counselling centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the “Amplifying Voices” Project.  This project, which was launched by Feba UK, is increasing the engagement of local people in conversations with their communities, which are amplified by radio broadcasts that address the health and wellbeing concerns of local people to promote positive long-term change. The project is giving space for people who are marginalised. People who have been waiting to be heard for too long.

Mr Kariou, started his own business and development organisation in 2013 called Friends of the Poor. He came to Freetown from the provinces.  He built a pushcart and started to do door-to-door waste collection to improve sanitation and cleanliness in the area. He shared money and got a tricycle – and more young people came on-board and he helped them into employment.

Mr Kariou cares deeply about women’s empowerment and wants to create jobs for women. In the slum areas where he does his collection, over 50% are unemployed. Many are single mothers with no opportunities to go back to school. Mr Kariou teaches tailoring, soap making and micro-finance to start a business. He believes by doing this that he can help empower these women and the local community.

Mr Kariou was able to go on the radio through the Amplifying Voices project to share the good that is happening in his community and to encourage other people to get involved in his work. Since the radio interview, more people are showing an interest and getting involved: ‘More people are coming together to share the concerns of their community. We meet more and are now working together’.

In Sierra Leone and across Africa, radio is a powerful tool to raise awareness of gender violence and give women a voice.

In Sierra Leone and across Africa, radio is a powerful tool to raise awareness of gender violence and give women a voice.

Amplifying Voices in Sierra Leone

It is nearly 3 months since their country was declared Ebola-free and Sierra Leoneans are yearning for a return to normality.  But for many, life still remains far from normal, as communities emerge from trauma, where many still face social stigma, persistent health problems and don't trust the health system.  Added to this, an estimated 4 million people in the country are at risk of starvation and over 19,000 children have been affected by the Ebola virus through the loss of parents or loved ones.

In collaboration with partners, Feba UK and Affirm, HCR UK are working with three communities, a hospital, churches and a radio station to help local communities recover after the trauma of Ebola.  Following a workshop to introduce a powerful community engagement process, known as "SALT”, the project will link local communities, health providers, people of faith and radio, using the strengths of each to promote dialogue, reconciliation and healing in Sierra Leone."