Project 1808, a non-profit making non-governmental organization has on Wednesday, 26th April, 2017, certified 35 Ebola survivors at Rokel community in the Western Area Rural District.
The training for the 35 Ebola survivors, which was funded by the United States Embassy, created the platform for beneficiaries to be trained in tailoring, driving, catering and computing.
Project 1808's Founder and Chief Strategist, Dr. Alhaji N'jai, said the just concluded training was called the Ebola Survivor Livelihood Skills Development Program, adding that it was done to build capacity of Ebola survivors in the district.
He noted that the training, which would go on for a year, will target another 35 set of Ebola survivors, totaling 70 beneficiaries.
He disclosed that the training in tailoring and catering will last for about one year, while the driving and computing lasted for three months each.
"The selection of these Ebola survivors was done in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ebola Survivors Association, which identified to us skills training as its priorities. This was just a pilot phase. If we realize success, we will replicate it to other areas in the country," he said.
He said there were thousands of Ebola survivors that needed such capacity building and that Project 1808 would have to do more.
He noted, "We encountered lots of challenges during this training. At some points, we had to be providing transport fares for the Ebola survivors to come for the training. Capacity training was seen as a long term process by the beneficiaries.Most of them had wanted to seek a short means of getting livelihood than the training."
He said despite the challenges, Project 1808 has seen that the training was successful and it will go a long way to help the survivors.
Project 1808's Dr. Linda Vakunta, who implemented the project, said she came in contact with members of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors while she was doing an Ebola research in Sierra Leone.
"They categorically told me that they needed skills training for their members. We first did a donation to them but that was not enough. When we finally got a grant from the U.S Embassy, we embarked on the skills training and we succeeded in training 35 of them," she explained.
She called on the beneficiaries to implement what they have been taught over the past few months for the betterment of their lives.
President, Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, Yusuf Kabba, said his members could use the skills they have acquired to contribute to societal development, adding that it will also serve as a regular means of livelihood acquisition.
He said Project 1808 is an organization for the people and has been dancing to the drums of the Ebola survivors, noting that it was evident in the request they made for the capacity training.
"All the supplies that were given to us after we were discharged from the treatment centres were finished. But this training will enable us to be getting our livelihood always," he said.
He encouraged beneficiaries to focus on what they have learnt,which he said would help them to forget about the marginalization and stigmatization they face in their various communities.
Public Relations Officer, Sierra Leone Association Ebola Survivors, Daddy Hassan, said since they survived the Ebola, Project 1808 skills training program was the first they have had.
"Ebola Survivors should be treated like very important personalities because they are heroes and heroines. Ebola was contained because we agreed to abstain from sex and many things that we were told to avoid. We should be celebrated for that," he stated.
He urged Project 1808, the government, and others, to train Ebola survivors as paramedics because they immune system is now strong to fight the disease if it reoccurs.
Tutors and beneficiaries shared their experiences during the period of the training and expressed optimism for jobs.