Bockarie Boyah is a local champion of better sanitation in his village of Mamboma. In 2014, OVP selected him and 11 of his peers for training and a volunteer leadership role in designing and implementing a solution to the community’s number one priority: stopping the spread of sickness. He reflects and shares his sentiments towards his village of Mamboma.
“I truly love my community.
When OVP came here in February 2014, I decided to voluntarily provide my service to the development of my community through this leadership role. I had seen what OVP had done in other communities, and I wanted to be part of that here in Mamboma.
OVP’s process surprised to me. It was completely unique from how other organizations have operated around here.
Through the work, I learned how to facilitate a group, how to identify causes and effects of root problems, and how to identify the resources we do have. All of this helped to change my perception of the community in which I live.
We were able to create solutions to our community’s challenges… on our own! This made me realize we already have these ideas here, but we haven’t put them into practice in a way that will improve our community.
What surprises me now, though, is how we came to the conclusion that stopping the spread of sickness was our community’s biggest concern. It’s as though OVP knew that the Ebola outbreak was going to happen. The emphasis we put on preventive measures like sanitation and hand washing before the outbreak became very instrumental in the fight against Ebola.
When I first heard of Ebola, I was initially skeptical, thinking that it was just a plan by the government to harm us. But with the experiences gained from the training with OVP, I was moved to reconsider my views and accept reality. As the outbreak continued, all the precautionary measures for good community health we had discussed with OVP were what we had to continue to focus on in fighting Ebola.
Since the outbreak started, our behavior has completely changed. We have better sanitation practices. We do not perform the traditional burial rites of our loved ones, and we no longer encourage shaking hands as an expression of friendliness.
To me, the spread of sickness still remains our greatest community concern. The Community Health House (isolation unit) we built is necessary in fighting Ebola but also other diseases that occur. In fact, I strongly believe that, had such a plan been in place before this time, the outbreak would not have lasted long in the country.
I am looking forward to OVP continuing to do community development work here. I want to see Mamboma become a bigger, more united, hardworking community. That’s my vision for my people.”
Bockarie now assists in monitoring local Ebola isolation units and continues to be passionate about the health of his people.