Musa had left his family to work in the capital as a private driver. When he decided to move back to his community - Moyamba Junction - to support and protect his parents, he found a place heavily hit by Ebola. Moyamba Junction had become one of the hot spots of Ebola transmission in October, spurred by the movement of numerous traders and visitors coming to its famous market.
I decided to go back to Moyamba Junction to join my only father and my only mother, to cope together and safeguard ourselves.
38 people had got infected with the Ebola Virus during the funeral of the beloved local pharmacist. Possibly due to the respect and love felt by the community for the pharmacist, the District Health Medical Team agreed on a traditional burial, which includes activities such as washing the body, allowing the virus to spread easily.
Musa was torn between the desire to help and be close to his community, and protect himself and his family by staying away from potentially contagious people.
His dilemma found a solution when he met Princess and Mohamed, two Restless Development/SMAC Community Mobilisers who had arrived to work with the community. Musa joined the Youth Coalition as a volunteer, glad to finally feel useful in fighting the spread of the virus.
Princess and Mohamed worked according to the Community-led Ebola Action (CLEA) approach. As a first step they organised a community meeting, where stakeholders discussed the issues related to Ebola transmission and developed an action plan to prevent further transmission, to make sure that everyone was involved and that the community could take ownership of the programme. According to Musa, before Restless Development arrived in his community, there was limited understanding of Ebola. Musa’s father, who is the Paramount Chief, played a leadership role in supporting the action plan and instituting further by-laws to make the community safe.
The youth community, led by Musa, took an active role in following up with Ebola action plans, supporting the household community engagement activities, as well as contact tracing of suspected Ebola cases. His leadership has been crucial in reaching the massive success of 60 days without a single Ebola case in his Chiefdom.
Musa has also become Princess and Mohamed’s close friend. He makes sure that they are aware of community events, and gives them moral support.
"They are living away from their home place, so I try to make them feel at home by offering conversation and trust."
Musa finds the CLEA approach very successful, because every member of his community understood and participated in the initial awareness-raising session. He is now monitoring how the situation is changing, suggesting that mobilisers should be trained in contact tracing and encourage communities to avoid strangers, being supported with communication facilities.
Thanks to young leaders like Musa, the CLEA approach combined with community leadership is having a long-lasting impact on communities’ behaviour, keeping Musa’s community Ebola free and ensuring that hygiene and safety practices will not be dropped in the future.