Unless you've been really successful in filtering your news and social media sources you've heard a lot about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Since the spring of this year, the disease has toured through several cities and provincial areas in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The West Africa Ebola outbreak has infected more than ten thousand people, claimed more than five thousand lives and left tens of thousands of children to live as orphans. Compounding upon the loss of life, is the loss of national identity of each African country as seemingly all media coverage and political reaction to this outbreak is superimposing this regional problem onto the entire continent of Africa and creating fear of the continent as a whole.
I am a first generation American and the majority of my family still resides in Sierra Leone. Although part of me wishes that my family could enjoy the relative security that I do here in the US, I realize that distancing myself or my family from Sierra Leone can never be the solution. Instead, Ebola makes me realize just how interconnected we all are and how none of us are safe if one of us is unsafe. Despite the warnings that we must "not touch" nor "go near" those that are infected, the Ebola outbreak has made clear to me that more involvement and closer oversight and contact with our home country is essential for it's protection and progress.
Many of my friends and family have mobilized various efforts to help lessen the weight of this disease on our people back home. Some have delivered food to hospitals, others have given clothing to survivors who have had all of their belongings burned and still others have provided money and medical supplies to hospitals. The forever giving and grateful hearts of Sierra Leoneans is the reason why I will always be proud that Sierra Leone is my land of lineage. Despite our many mistakes and levels of mismanagement, Sierra Leoneans always pull together and pull through. My friends and I have started our own effort to raise funds for orphans of Ebola (the Fashion Does Good Campaign) which you can read more about/contribute to here. Additionally, my designer friend Mary Ann Kai Kai will be hosting a pop up shop in Washington DC on December 21st where she will be selling designs like the one pictured below from her Madam Wokie S/S 2015 line, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the fight against Ebola. In the meantime, I encourage Sierra Leoneans everywhere to remain as active in supporting Sierra Leone after Ebola is gone as you are now. I appreciate every single effort that people around the world have made to keep our loved ones safe and alive. I will continue contributing to the effort to end Ebola, and I will do it in style.