The Survivor Dream Project

The Survivor Dream Project | Project I - Women Who Survived Ebola
This is a community designed concept for a one-year period that offers a kick-start package for women who have survived Ebola in Sierra Leone. We know that surviving this devastating viral disease is one half of the battle and reintegrating back into society poses an incredible set of barriers. The Survivor Dream Project seeks to provide a safety net for women who have survived Ebola by building a community of supporters and cheer leaders, with the aim to ensure that each and every woman that participates in The Survivor Dream Project sets in motion her aspirations to live her life to the full again.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

1. Go back to school and stay in school by offering scholarship (through funds raised here) for without the support most would not be able to continue their education.

2. Build entrepreneurial capacity to launch and/or sustain their own businesses

3. Support female health workers in the program; develop an advocacy platform and resource tool kit for other health workers and survivors in need of long term social sector support.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

1. We support 20 women who survived Ebola with bi-weekly safe space sessions & also provided a closed user group along with mobile phones so they can communicate with one another for free.

2. We launched the Education fund to ensure that the young girls in the program are financially supported to go to school & we provide mentorship & coaching to ensure they stay in school. They also have access to free computer training and classes after school at the best training centre in the city.

3. In January the SDP will hold 9 entrepreneurial sessions for the petty traders where they will learn smart economics, build business plans & be supported with small grants for their businesses once they complete the 9 sessions.

4. Storytelling is a key principle approach at SDP and we give our women the tools and the skills to choose how, where and whether or not they want to tell their stories. Each has been equipped, and trained, with a camera and their images will showcased in 2016.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

The uniqueness of the program lies in its simplicity and commitment to each woman we support by:

1. Creating safe space ( on a bi-weekly basis) for women and offering support with basic tools to map out their dreams/ needs/vision for moving forward after having survived Ebola.

2. Provide CUG network with mobile phones for consistent communication, feedback and support.

3. Storytelling as a tool to subvert dominant Ebola Survivor narratives that undermine the agency and complexity of the impact of the disease. Using storytelling platforms and techniques, like video, photography, and art as a tool for healing. Creativity that will feed into wider lessons learned, publication that will highlight impact of Ebola through a gendered lens.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

3 girls in school, who otherwise had no other way of paying for school fees, having lost their entire immediate family, have been supported. We have 12 more girls to source funding for. Launched education fund.

Sourced funding from OSIWA for just 6 months of the project's lifespan and we are now working with AFRICELL, the largest telecommunications company in Sierra Leone.

Our digital platform helped re-shape concepts around Ebola survivors, we used our links with international publications to highlight the gender dimension/structural barriers that women and girls face in the Ebola response and even in post-Ebola recovery process.

20 women and girls are supported and made to feel like they matter. Our project started with a vision & $100. We support 20 women with bi-weekly transportation costs to attend sessions, full lunch and when there is an emergency, we assist.

CHALLENGES FACED

Funding and limited human resources. In order to truly upscale our programs we need funding to increase the number of women we support and to target the areas most in need.

We need an office space to run our safe space sessions and capacity building facilitation classes. This can only be achieved when we have funding - we can upscale program, increase our target reach and hire more people to support the program.

LESSONS LEARNT

Anything is possible as long as one has the vision.

Funding is integral to sustaining a project.

Strategic planning and follow through is imperative to grow the project.

Even if all we did was create a safe space for these women to meet, talk, and find solace in one another, this was a space that did not exist for many Ebola survivors, especially women who face all types of social, and economic barriers and vulnerabilities.