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Ebola hasn’t gone away in Sierra Leone

It was only a month ago Ebola hysteria gripped headlines, feeding a media frenzy over the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S. But even though the country’s attention has waned as the virus proved to be a non-threat stateside, it continues to maintain a lethal stranglehold over West Africa.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 6,000 lives, the majority coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It’s getting worse in Sierra Leone

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#herostatus 15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus.

Kelvin became the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT. THNKR had exclusive access to Kelvin and his life-changing journey - experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future.

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Paul Shaw: Fighting Ebola; The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Kono, Sierra Leone

“Take an epidemic (the fight against Ebola), photograph the true heroes (soldiers from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces), and show the spirt of the human soul and the deep bond of brotherhood.” - MaryAnn Camilleri via lensculture

Photographer Statement: Despite its natural beauty in 2014 the country became the centre of attention across the globe as it was hit by an Ebola outbreak, which has killed over 3600 people to date.

These portraits feature soldiers from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) who are working with British forces and members of the public in the fight against Ebola.

The soldiers are all from the same regiment and are all friends.[…] As a soldier myself, I instantly had a bond with these men that most other photographers simply would not have. Many of these men have fought in the civil war and are veterans. I wanted to capture this in my imagery and see the stories told through their eyes.

Further insights from the photographer’s blog:

What astonishes me is the people’s spirit and resolve to not only embrace the aid, which the international community has given, but also how they help their selves through social mobilisation in order to stand united in the battle against the disease. The countries infrastructure is not as robust as that of more developed countries, nor is the education system, but that does not mean they do not know what needs to be done.

The British Department for International Development (DfID), UK Aid, the British Military and other None Governmental Organisations (NGOs) may have set up treatment facilities and control measures but it is the local people who are doing all the real work. We the fundraisers have merely provided the platform and the launch pad on which to run operations to tackle the disease.[…]

—Paul Shaw

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Paul Shaw: The Streets of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a colourful, beautiful, positive country. Here are its streets and People.

Photographer Statement: 

Two months in and I feel honoured to be able to visit a country like Sierra Leone. Since I last wrote about the country I have been on the streets more often and met many more people, been given the thumbs up with a cheer and been shouted at for taking photographs as I pass by. Whether it’s a cheer or a disgruntled yell there is always an underlying joviality, which every citizen that I have met to date naturally possesses. You only have to look around the streets to see this shining through.

Despite its natural beauty in 2014 the country became the centre of attention across the globe as it was hit by an Ebola outbreak, which has killed over 3600 people to date.

What astonishes me is the people’s spirit and resolve to not only embrace the aid, which the international community has given, but also how they help their selves through social mobilisation in order to stand united in the battle against the disease. The countries infrastructure is not as robust as that of more developed countries, nor is the education system, but that does not mean they do not know what needs to be done.

The British Department for International Development (DfID), UK Aid, the British Military and other None Governmental Organisations (NGOs) may have set up treatment facilities and control measures but it is the local people who are doing all the real work. The fundraisers have merely provided the platform and the launch pad on which to run operations to tackle the disease.

*see Paul Shaw’s portrait series on soldiers from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, who are on the front line fighting the ebola outbreak. 

The West African country gets its name from the hills that surround what is now Freetown, which in 1462 were named “Serra Lyoa”, or “Lion Mountains” by the Portuguese explorer Pedro de Cintra. The country covers over 27,699 square miles and has a population of over six million people with over one million of those living in the capital. The main religion is Islam followed by Christianity and unlike other parts of the world the two religions live and thrive together in harmony.