Survivor-Centered Truth-telling: Ebola
This site (Survivor-Centered EBOLA PROJECT) is a place for keeping count and memorializing those who
have died from the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It focuses on Sierra Leone simply because two
of the founding members of the International Commission on Survivor-Centered Disaster Recovery
(Amadu Khan and Momo Turay) are from that country. The urgency to do something to capture the ‘voices’
of survivors and responders to this unfolding global health disaster compels the deployment of readily
available expertise, networks and connections that Amadu Khan and Momo Turay can facilitate. The Ebola
outbreak has been a source of personal tragedy to both of them. However, we hope that eventually the
site will cover Liberia and Guinea.
The urgency to record every death from and memorialize the victims of Ebola is a compelling one. We owe
every survivor and everyone claimed by this outbreak for the true picture to be reported. The Commission
is aware of the implications of this sort of truth-telling. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a typical
example, when certain rumor-panics and legends actually contributed to the death toll because they made
claims about violent activity that never actually happened. In response to these ‘un-truths’, the city of New
Orleans suspended rescue and redirected its police to “impose order” instead. The Red Cross and FEMA
also refused to enter certain areas to rescue and give aid.
We hope that the reverse will happen in this project: knowledge that the situation is actually WORSE than reported
may influence outsiders to mount an infinite and efficient response to what has now become the worst global health
emergency. As an international group striving to secure survivor rights, ICSCDR should bear testimony to important
‘truths’ as observed and told by all who have been touched and affected, albeit in different ways and magnitude, by catastrophes in any part of the world. In the context of the Ebola outbreak, our Commission thinks that it may be a source of encouragement to post accounts of people who have survived the disease in Sierra Leone as well as those, whose act of heroism like Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, make us feel humbled and inspired. For many of us, the accounts of the life of people like Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan are stirring. We feel privileged to learn about such selfless commitment that we aspire to, but never quite live up to.
To this end, the site features the following:
1. Reporting Ebola: This has links to or reproduces stories from media outlets that inspire.
2. Survivors' Personal Accounts of Ebola: This contains accounts or ‘voices’ of survivors' first hand experiences of Ebola. It also include 'voices' from the diaspora
3. Ebola and the Folkloric Imagination: Here we feature artistic and creative expressions relating to Ebola. Although challenging and bordering on the macabre, many of these abound, in the form of legends, myths, rumours, comedy, parody, etc.
4. Heroes: Here we carry stories of heroic acts by responders, survivors and the deceased.
5. Memorializing Victims: This features the personal stories, memories and statements about people who have died.
On top of these, the site has a ‘blog’ and ‘Ebola Body Count’ sections. The former is for people to write whatever they want about the outbreak. The latter provides figures of those killed by Ebola on a daily basis.
We therefore call on everyone who feels compelled to share their accounts, insights and views on this catastrophe. People could write something to remember the lives, actions or any other information about those killed by Ebola, survivors (individuals and communities), responders (individuals or NGOs), or about institutions (national government or supra-nationals). We all have a moral duty to bear witness in this unfolding catastrophe and move beyond the statistics to stories about ‘lives’, actions and interventions.
Whatever contribution or information you provide, feel free to do so in your own way; in prose or artistic form to capture the ‘truth’ of the Ebola epidemic.
Amadu Wurie Khan (PhD)
Heroes & Heroines