Where's the Net Launch Part One
Where's the Net' successfully began with a motorcade parade and street theatre, ending with a dynamic Launch Ceremony in Sierra Leone in the presence of the First Lady of Sierra Leone and Faiths Act partners and friends.
Over the last few weeks, the Sierra Leone Faiths Act Fellows have been working hard to organise the Launch of the 'Where's the Net?' campaign here in Freetown and we were extremely delighted by the commitment and assistance of our Malaria Faith Ambassadors (MFAs) and Malaria Faith Champions (MFCs) in the process. And since we wanted to launch the event 'Salone' style, it was decided on organising a motor parade and street theatre - community activities especially enjoyed here - as well as pre-launch radio programmes before the Launching Ceremony at the National Stadium Atlantic Hall.
The pre-launch activities began on the morning of Tuesday 14th February 2012. After overcoming a few unexpected hitches (such as the scheduled truck for the motorcade not showing up) and dressing up the new truck, we began our motorcade parade through parts of Freetown.
Driving around the centre of town and through the very populated shopping streets known as PZ to parts of the East end, the truck sang out the Faiths Act Jingle on malaria prevention, produced by one of our very own Malaria Faith Ambassadors, Rev Margaret Sesay.
The parade turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding community activities I have taken part in. As well as dancing joyfully to the jingle, while holding the banner and a bed net, those marching reached out to the public, warning them of the dangers of sleeping without a bed net and encouraging them to clean their environment to clear mosquito breeding sites.
As the parade moved down the streets, pedestrians stopped and shop owners came out to take a look at the passing crowd of excited and passionate people. Close to the finish line, the crowd took the opportunity to stop for a photo opportunity at a local Catholic Church.
Arriving at the National Stadium entrance, the crowd then split into 5 teams for the Street Theatre, where they dramatised the 5 key messages to the passers-by. It was uplifting to see the crowd engaged with the humorous and information filled skits. Even more encouraging was that the audience was made up of school children pulled in from their journey home and street traders. We even spotted a pregnant woman and a young mother with a baby around one years old listening intently to the programme.
The most encouraging thing from the whole day for me however came at the end of the day, when I was approached by a secondary school boy who asked in Krio, 'So now I have watched this, I want to know how can I get a bed net so I can tell my family about what I have learnt today and we can protect ourselves?' I carefully explained to him in the little Krio that I know that if his family did not own a bed net then perhaps they could save for one, because the it is more cost effective to be preventive, than to have to miss work or school and purchase medicine and time with the physician. He nodded fervently and promised to pass on the message. Being able to explain this to the young man helped me to realise the achievement of this launch in reaching people. It was a warm end to an amazing day, raising our hopes for the following Launch.
Banke Adetayo, Faiths Act Fellow