It was hard for us to imagine what it must be like to be living in Sierra Leone at the time of the Ebola epidemic. It’s been even harder to imagine what it has been like for the children. What we have heard is that children are facing many challenges linked to emotional and social upheaval. And that in communities there can be fear, stigma, jealousy and mistrust. But where there are children there is also enthusiasm, playfulness, friendship, love and joy.
With the help of colleagues in Sierra Leone, Children for Health implemented a pilot project to support people who work with children – educators, youth workers and others. We called them our ‘Children’s Champions’.
At the height of the epidemic, we were asked by several colleagues to create child friendly messages on Ebola plus ideas and activities that develop children’s knowledge and skills to make sense of the impact of Ebola, at home, with friends and in their community.
People loved what we did and encouraged us to develop and test more content and make it more widely available by using the mobile phone.
We were also asked to develop a brief for organisations across the region to consider the potential for using a participatory approach as part of a community social mobilisation strategy.
In April 2015 we launched our Safe, Strong and Smiling mobile website.
The content provides Children’s Champions with step-by-step guidance on ways to find out what children themselves are thinking and feeling about a range of topics – not just Ebola but on other health issues too. It includes: topics linked to life skills, childcare and feeling safe; as well as key messages, images, ideas for clapping games, role-plays, quizzes, songs and games. The idea is for children to learn, have fun with and share these with other children, their friends and younger siblings.
Over 18 months, we tested the delivering the Safe, Strong and Smiling content using the mobile phone and in school health clubs. We have built monitoring and evaluation tools into the content to help us with the testing. Please contact us for a case study and to find out more.
Unfortunately, as of September 2019, the mobisite is no longer online. However, there are still some other resources available below. If you’d like to know more about this project, contact Clare.
In May 2015, we were given this wonderful story, A Stone Is A Strange Thing on the topic of Ebola. It was developed and donated to us by Anise Waljee, long-time colleague and mentor and one of the Children for Health Founding Trustees. Anise developed the story alongside colleagues who knew deeply the context in Sierra Leone. We then worked with David Gifford, our wonderful illustrator, and tested these too. Please download the story for free from our shop and share it with others.
When the programme was at the end of its initial phase we developed this two sided poster to enable people to understand quickly what it was all about. This is available in three langauges and available from our shop.