What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
The Ebola virus has killed more than 2,200 people so far. But there have also been many cases of relatives of those with the disease running away, fearful of foreign medical staff as well as the way that those who die are buried, which is considered disgraceful in Sierra Leonean culture. It is vital that people are made aware of the potential of survival and the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid catching the disease. But getting information to remote and often illiterate communities is a huge challenge.
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and there are a number of other problems that people face which impact on health, education and other basic human needs. Illiteracy is high, 99% have no internet access and there are many languages spoken – which mean groups are excluded from the political system where the main language is English. In the long-term, the needs to educate from within society, through those who live and experience it on a daily basis, will continue to be there.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
According to the WHO, as of September 13th, there have been 475 Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone. However, another important fact is that Ebola is not unstoppable and certainly not unpreventable. If caught early, the chances of survival are much higher. According to the Ministry of Health, 309 people have survived after receiving treatment. Doctors Without Borders reported from one clinic in Guinea that early treatment increased the survival rate to 75%. This is a vital message to get across to people who suspect they may have caught the virus.
Illiteracy for 15 to 24-year-old males is over 70% and females 50%.
More than a quarter of children do not make it to 5 years old, caused mainly by Malaria. 1.5% of the population also suffer from HIV.
Less than 2% of the population use the internet
There are about 20 distinct language groups
63% of the population live in rural areas
Life expectancy is 57
What is your solution?
Future View’s music video has shown both their ability and how useful something like this can be. What we need to do now is invest in the future of FVFG in order to give them both the enhanced level of skills, and the equipment, to make more health videos and get these out to the people who need them most.
How will you deliver this?
There are no flights going out to Sierra Leone at the present time, so we are unable to send equipment immediately and there is a ban on meeting in large groups which prevents them working on a production right now.
PFP is currently devising a course in scriptwriting for educational drama whereby FVFG can work in small groups or individually to improve their skills as filmmakers. The course will culminate in the production of a film focusing on hope, the potential of survival from Ebola and the freedom from stigma for former sufferers of the virus. Owing to the very serious effect Ebola has had on the economic situation of the country and the fact that many of our group depend on casual labour, which may not be available to them now, we also need to supply some help with their subsistence while they undergo training.
FVFG have already completed the month-long training in Film Production, whereby PFP sent over two professional filmmakers to train the group in the basic skills in how to make a film from concept to delivery as well as providing the necessary production equipment.
Once it becomes possible, PFP will then carry out other training programmes. The course in Distribution will give them the knowledge of how best to get their films shown. For this we will provide them with the pedal power mobile cinema kit, so that the lack of electricity will not get in the way. The pedal powered cinema has proved tremendously successful in enabling us to take films to the most remote areas. In Malawi, we have already used it to reach at least 10,000 people in rural communities.
We will also train the group in Editing, as well as provide them with a laptop and software. At the moment, they have to make a 10-hour round trip to the capital in order to edit. But with the skills and equipment, making films will be made so much easier. Throughout the year, we have also paid for all the members of the group to have training at a partner NGO, WeOwnTV, in the capital Freetown.
We aim to continue supporting the great work of FVFG with the skills and equipment, enabling them to keep making educational films for positive change in their community.
“We have the courage and our mind is set to make sure we help our country in the best way possible. We believe we can do this by educating people through film.”
Mohamed S. Conteh, Director of Future View Film Group.