The UMC in East Cote d’Ivoire Remains Vigilant Against Ebola Threat Sensitizes in Open Air

Affalikro – Located on a road linking Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana and situated about 220 Km north-east of Abidjan, Affalikro hosted August 29 2015, a sensitization event on the Ebola virus disease.

*The road on which Affalikro is situated does not have an official name yet. It is familiarly known as “Niable Road”

It takes 10mn and costs 500 Fcfa (less than $1) to get to Affalikro from Abengourou on board a 1989 Toyota Corolla XL. Four passengers seat behind and one in front.

No matter their age, old vehicles are very much useful in Africa. Read more here.

Caption here.
A boarding ticket and the taxi traveling from Abengourou to Affalikro.

The village is part of the Niablé United Methodist mission, in the Abengourou Missionary District of the Cote d’Ivoire Annual Conference. The Ebenezer United Methodist Church, under the supervision of the Rev Pastor Franck Brahoua hosted the open air discussion on the threat.

The people living in Affalikro like others from the east of Cote d’Ivoire mostly belong to the Agni and Baoule ethnic groups. They like eating bush meat including agouti, bush rat and porcupine just to name few. However, since the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and following the Ivorian government’s ban on selling and feeding on a long list of wild animals, populations living in Affalikro and around have changed their feeding habits, dropping the blacklisted game and prioritizing fish, chicken, goat, sheep and pork.

Though prevention messages continue to be broadcasted through local radio stations and the national television, there is a tendency for the populations to resume feeding on meat they are familiar with because, no case of Ebola victim has been reported in Cote d’Ivoire.

With this tendency in mind, the Rev. Brahoua seized the opportunity, as overseer of the Niablé United Methodist Women’s 2015 annual convention, to sensitize women and the inhabitants of the locality on Ebola and its negative impact. “We should remain vigilant, Ebola should not make its way through the body of Christ.” Said Rev. Brahoua.

Two guest speakers carried the message across. Dr. Kouamé Blaise of the Affalikro public Health Center and myself.

Two sheets of plywood being set to serve as projection screen on a wall of the Ebenezer UMC in Affalikro. Photo by Ndzulo
Two sheets of plywood being set to serve as projection screen on a wall of the Ebenezer UMC in Affalikro. Photo by Ndzulo.

I took the floor first to talk about why The United Methodist Church (UMC) is actively involved with the fight against Ebola. After mentioning among others, SMS campaigns and promoting the use of Assist Radios in Liberia and Sierra Leone, many United Methodists present felt rewarded to be part of such a kind, caring and loving denomination.

I also showed and commented videos on Ebola which have been produced by United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and its partners. Participants from all the corners of Affalikro were gathered in a large circle in front of the Ebenezer UMC to watch these projections. Men and women, aged, young and children were all there.

The primary language spoken in this locality is the Baoulé [ba.u.le]. It is spoken by the Akan people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Côte d’Ivoire. My message in French was fluently interpreted by Mrs. Kouamé Sylvie, a United Methodist Woman who serves as Finance and Administration Chairperson of the Adoukoffikro UMC.

Ebola: A Poem for the Living
I first showed and commented the first Ebola video titled “Ebola: A Poem for the Living” which was produced in 2014 to contribute to the prevention of the further spread of the virus in Africa. In this animation, the main character – a young boy – dies of the disease but before, invites the living to be careful and to trust the health workers who are trained to handle Ebola cases. The video is available as a free download in 17 African languages and it’s still possible to have it in other languages.

A scene of "Ebola: a poem for the living" projected on a wall of the Ebenezer UMC in Affalikro. Photo by Ndzulo.
A scene of “Ebola: a poem for the living” projected on a wall of the Ebenezer UMC in Affalikro. Photo by Ndzulo.

Ebola: In Praise of Prevention
This video is a suite of the first, laying more emphasis on preventing Ebola through proper hands washing and reporting of Ebola cases for the possibility to take treatment that can preserve life. Here, the main character is the little sister of the young boy who died in video #1.

The official release of this second video is coming up soon. Stay tuned to this blog to be among the first to be informed when it’s available. You can also check on the Ebolavideo.org website.

Captured in this photo is a scene of the second Ebola video. Photo by Ndzulo
Captured in this photo is a scene of the second Ebola video. Photo by Ndzulo

In Affalikro, its surroundings and elsewhere too, washing of hands is hardly done in a hygienic way. Often, the same amount of water is used my more than 2 persons to wash their hands. According the Ivorian National Institute of Public Hygiene, the first person who uses the water, actually washes his hands. Any other person takes on the germs of the first. And the last person takes on the germs left by the others. Shocking but true.

This is where the second Ebola video is very important in preventing Ebola and many other water borne diseases. It depicts in a creative and non-coercive way, the process of how to wash hands properly to prevent contracting Ebola.

After watching, the viewers expressed their interest to see the videos in their native languages.

The Dr. Concluded
“If you have watched the videos very well, then you’re trained to stay away from Ebola.” Said Dr. Kouamé when he took the floor to talk about the history of the disease Ebola and showcasing details about its symptoms and how it is transferred from animal to animal, animal to man and from man to man.

This gathering was the second of its kind in this District. The first took place in Abengourou in March 2015. Read the story here.

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