Author: Olabisi Olu Garrick, November 26 2014 - As a radio presenter here in Sierra Leone, I'm certainly not used to being asked for my own views live on air. It’s normally me who asks all the tough questions. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to make a "pledge" regarding the Ebola crisis just as we were coming to the end of a lively two hour Ebola special programme in Freetown. For those who don’t know, a pledge means talking about one’s own death and that is strictly taboo in this country.
My heart started pounding. What should I say to our estimated half a million audience munching their breakfasts early on a Saturday morning. I took a deep breath: "I pledge that if I die from Ebola, I forbid any of my relations to touch my body. Instead they must call the emergency number 117 so the medical experts can make all the necessary arrangements for my burial themselves. I want this to be done because I love my relations more than anything in the world and I don’t want them to lose their lives because of me."
Now it was the turn of my co-presenter and good friend from Africa Independent Radio, John Konteh, who was looking equally stunned: "If I catch the disease, I pledge that none of my family should attend my funeral in case they catch Ebola. I forbid them."
Every Saturday this month we're producing a show addressing one key theme to combat the spread of Ebola. We want to hear the worries, concerns and questions direct from our audiences who send us text messages. On the topic of "Safe Burials Save Lives" we were bombarded by texts such as: "Should my family members also dress up in protective clothing as they stand by the graveside? ...So many organisations have come here to fight Ebola but still no success. Why?" To answer these questions we have experts sitting next to us from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Ebola Response Centre and NGOs.
We ask the questions, the experts answer with best advice on preventative measures. Through the airwaves, an audience hungry for accurate and trustworthy information gets life-saving information and encouragement to adopt new habits.
Next week the topic is "Early Treatment Saves Lives". One pledge at a time, we will beat this disease.
Kick out Ebola Live is co-produced in Freetown by BBC Media Action, Africa Independent Radio and Cotton Tree News.
Click here to access this BBC Media Action blog and related links on their work in Sierra Leone.
Image credit: BBC Media Action
BBC Media Action
BBC Media Centre, MC3A, 201 Wood Lane
United Kingdom (UK)
Phone: 44 (0) 20 8008 0001
Fax: 44 (0) 20 8008 5970