On January 15, 2017, Project 1808 launched its Ebola Survivors Livelihood Skills development program expected to train over 70 Ebola survivors, at Rokel, a few miles from Freetown city. The program was made possible thanks to a grant from the Sierra Leone US Embassy office. The most recent of Project 1808’s capacity development programs in Sierra Leone, this training platform will offer courses in computer training, catering, driving and tailoring. The project’s lead and Project 1808 executive director; Dr. Linda Vakunta explains what prompted her to develop such a program that provides Ebola survivors with livelihood skills:
after engaging in conversations with survivors and executives of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola survivors, it was evident that the critical concern was long term solutions to their everyday challenges. Just like war survivors, they know that soon attention will drift away from them (Ebola Survivors), the (aid) money will decrease yet most of their daily life issues will continue. I knew that providing livelihood skills that leads to employment was critical for this group. And we are grateful the US Embassy shared our vision and awarded us grant money to launch this program.”
The program launched with 30 survivors spread across the 4 training areas. Project 1808 plans to train at least 70 Ebola survivors by the end of the one-year grant. In attendance at the launch was the Sierra Leone’s Association of Ebola Survivors’ public relations officer, Daddy Hassan Kamara. Thanking Project 1808 and it’s country coordinator Mr. Ishmail Barrie, Mr. Hassan Kamara noted his awe at Project 1808’s boldness and forward thinking to implement such a program for survivors, the first of it’s kind.
Project 1808 Executive Director, Dr. Linda Vakunta is already thinking of sustainability and looking to the future. “We would love to continue to offer these training courses free of charge to Ebola survivors but to do that we need more funding. So I am actively seeking funding sources and partners who share our vision to empower Ebola survivors with skills to support themselves.