Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Press Release: University YMCA partners with Sierra Leone YMCA to address Ebola Outbreak

University YMCA Partners with Sierra Leone YMCA To Address Ebola Outbreak
Campaign to support humanitarian relief and
partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders

The current Ebola outbreak is one of the largest outbreaks in history, impacting 3,707 individuals as of August 31 in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak could eventually infect more than 20,000 people, according to a new estimate from the World Health Organization. Also according to WHO, Sierra Leone has recorded a total of 1,216 confirmed cases, ranking the second highest number of cases out of all affected countries. In addition to providing food, medical supplies, and protective clothing, one of the biggest challenges facing individuals in Sierra Leone is the dispelling of misconceptions about the virus itself, what the symptoms look like and how to prevent spreading the disease further.

In response, the University YMCA launched a local Ebola Relief Campaign today, aimed at raising $10,000 to support the humanitarian relief work being undertaken by the Sierra Leone YMCA and an additional $10,000 to fund the development of an education and prevention tool using cell phone technology.

The University Y is raising half the funds needed to create an education and prevention tool in partnership with Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), which is producing the animation and providing the other half of the funds. SAWBO is a program of the University of Illinois that originally combined animation with cell phone technology to educate farmers in remote parts of the world about post crop production techniques using voice over narration in local dialects. SAWBO is fast tracking the development of an Ebola animation that can be deployed by the Sierra Leone YMCA using their network of 23 branches throughout the country. Volunteers with the Sierra Leone Y are currently recording the voice over narration developed by SAWBO.

To support the Y’s efforts, President Robert Easter of the University of Illinois has offered to make the first donation to the Y and encouraged support of the campaign.

“The University Y has a long history of working with our students in addressing real issues facing our world” explained President Easter. “I am proud to be the first donor to this collaboration and I want to encourage others on campus and in our community to help make this effort a success.”

The Ebola Relief Campaign is collaboration between the University YMCA, the Sierra Leone YMCA, and Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), a program at the University of Illinois. For people interested in joining the collaborative effort, the University YMCA will be convening a meeting of theSierra Leone Working Group on Tuesday, September 23 at 4pm at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois. To help raise local awareness, the University Y will be co-sponsoring a teach-in with SAWBO and the U of I Center for Global Studies on Thursday, September 18 in Room 1092 in Lincoln Hall from 4pm to 5:30pm.

Before news of the Ebola outbreak broke, the University Y and the Sierra Leone Y had been exploring possible collaborations as part of the University’s Global Health Initiative, “When news of the Ebola outbreak spread, suddenly everything we had talked about seemed irrelevant. We shifted gears and develop a plan of action based on the priorities identified by the Sierra Leone YMCA,” explained Y Program Coordinator Enrique Rebolledo. “With branches in 23 communities, the Sierra Leone Y is on the front lines in combating the impact of this disease. Unfortunately it has also placed their volunteers in greater risk. At least two of their volunteers have already died from the disease.”

Because of the urgent need for humanitarian relief, the University Y will be forwarding money for the donation even before the funds are raised. “The need is so urgent that we didn’t want to wait until we had the money in hand several weeks from now,” explained Y Executive Director Mike Doyle “It is a risky proposition, but we believe that they community will step forward and help us reach this goal.”


Media: 1. About SAWBO [VIDEO]

2. Teach-In Flyer (png)

3. Image (Sierra Leone YMCA visit.jpg)
Christian Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone YMCA visits the University YMCA on June 27 and 28, 2014. Pictured in bottom row, left to right: Walt McMahon, Mabinty Tarawallie (and daughter), and Christian Kamara. Pictured in top row, left to right: Kasey Umland, Mike Doyle, Enrique Rebolledo, and Vaneitta Goines.

For media inquires, contact
Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director


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