In light of the recent epidemic, the Contemporary Issues in Science class decided to focus the five-week, intensive course work on the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Their culminating assignment is to create a documentary about the epidemic, providing information about the disease and examining this particular outbreak in detail. Dr. Ashley Johnson and the class of five seniors, connected with Hindo Kposowa, a community leader and founder of “Global Education and Justice Network” in Bo District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, to gain understanding of what life is like in the midst of the crisis and learn from someone who is seeing the effects firsthand.
Through messaging on Facebook and Skype, Hindo has shared a great deal with the class. Since the outbreak began, he has been working to disseminate accurate information within his community, Bumpe, in the attempt to shut down conspiracies that his fellow citizens have come to believe. During of their first conversations with Hindo, the class asked if there was anything they could do to help with his efforts. He mentioned that it might be nice to have his education materials in the form of a video instead of the paper copies he was using at the time. He says that much of the outbreak is a result of unawareness; there are so many misunderstandings, cultural stigmas, and conspiracy theories surrounding Ebola. Only 12 years removed from a civil war, he has explained that there is still great distrust between citizens and the young government. Some people believe that Ebola does not really exist, while others have come to think that the government is injecting people with it. Hindo’s mission of educating his community is key in the fight against Ebola.
So, just a few days into the class’s documentary project, they had a project-within-a-project. The class spent about a week producing a short public service announcement based on Hindo's content and message – Ebola is Real. The class uploaded it to YouTube for Hindo to see. He was thrilled with the work.
On Tuesday, January 13, Dr. Johnson heard from Hindo that the PSA produced by the girls is now playing on television throughout the Bo district. It is being broadcast on SLBC TV -- the government-owned television station. The regional viewership within the Bo district is approximately 1 million people.
“It is pretty amazing to think that the work of five girls in the course of just five weeks has the power to positively impact that many people on another continent,” reflected Dr. Ashley Johnson.Academics Leadership Student Life