Saturday, October 18, 2014

The next battle to kick out Ebola: Battling stigma and fear

While the death toll continues to rise from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the rest of the world is gripped by fear. This fear is a common human reaction to something like Ebola, a highly infectious disease that can spread rapidly with no known cure. Indeed, this is scary. But the stigma that is becoming associated with Ebola is even scarier.

We are hopeful that with all the attention that this outbreak is now receiving, it will soon be under control. Our biggest challenge, however, is how to get rid of the stigma surrounding the Ebola outbreak for the affected areas and the people from these areas.

I have seen several Facebook posts of people launching sensitisation campaigns informing the public and their Facebook friends, that by being a citizen of the affected country, they do not automatically carry the virus. Campaigns like "I am a Liberian, I'm not a virus", and "I am a Sierra Leonean, I'm not a virus" are becoming commonplace on social media.

I'm also attempted to do the same after my experience at an event that I atended two days ago. While standing, chatting and networking as commonplace in these events, I met a gentleman who upon realising that I am from Sierra Leone (read: I am a Sierra Leonean, but not necessarily traveling from Sierra Leone in recent times), he immediately found ways of skilfully avoiding any form of physical contact - no handshakes nothing. His reaction was shrouded in humour but you can sense his deep fear of "being touched by someone from an Ebola country". I made it easier for him by ensuring that I shook hands with everyone else in our small group but not with him, as I took my leave.

I was just thinking to myself that this is what lies ahead for some time to come, for people from these affected countries. I carry a Sierra Leonean passport. So, even if I do not live in Sierra Leone, neither am I travelling from that part of the world, I can still be a suspect at airports and other locations. Imagine what life will be like for people who are actually living in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and trying to travel abroad in the near future.

This will be the new battle. The battle against ignorance. Education does not always translate to knowledge and intelligence.

I live you with this quote from Maya Angelou (her spirit lives on):

"My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors."

 - Maya Angelou

Saturday, March 22, 2014

About charisma

A wonderful talk by Olivia Fox Cabane on Charisma (Stanford Seminar)

She defines the Charisma equation as "Charisma = Presence + Power + Warmth"

A great talk on Power, Presence and Warmth and the role of self-confidence. However, what I find missing is the element of Trust. Charisma should also be linked to Trust. You have to come through as trustworthy.

"Charisma is not only how you make people feel about you, it is also how you make them feel about themselves" - Olivia Fox Cabane

Please check out the Youtube video.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sierra Leone's former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah dies at 82 - Vanguard News

FREETOWN  (AFP) – Sierra Leone’s former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, widely credited with returning peace to the shattered west African nation after years of brutal civil war, died on Thursday aged 82.
Kabbah, who led the country during an 11-year conflict in which thousands had their limbs hacked off and 120,000 people were killed, was at home when he was pronounced dead, said John Benjamin, a family friend and former chairman of Kabbah’s party.
Late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Late Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
The government of President Ernest Bai Koroma led tributes to Kabbah, describing him as “one of the pillars of democracy” in the country.
“He will go down in history as one of the leaders who stood tall in ensuring that he shook hands with people that were rejected by the majority of Sierra Leoneans during the war,” government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay told reporters.
“If we are now enjoying peace and stability in Sierra Leone, there is no way president Kabbah could be dissociated from that.”
Bayraytay said Koroma would cut short a visit to Congo-Brazzaville to return to Freetown on Friday and pay his respects.
Kabbah was praised for launching a disarmament programme that led to the official end of the war in January 2002 with the help of a United Nations peacekeeping force and British military trainers.

Sierra Leone's former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah dies at 82 - Vanguard News

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Aim for effectiveness, not efficiency

If our ultimate goal is to achieve something and make a difference (in people's lives), then we can say that we are effective when we achieve that goal. So, effectiveness is about achieving a goal and making a difference (doing the right thing).

Efficiency, on the other hand, is about doing things the best way possible. It is a measure of how well we did a specific task or performed an assignment (doing it right).

We may be very efficient in doing something, but if the ultimate result is meaningless, then we have not been effective. However, to be effective, we may need to improve certain processes (make them more efficient).

We can argue that the reason why we may want to be efficient in the first place, is to make us more effective. Efficiency for efficiency's sake is pointless. So, aim for effectiveness in all that you do. Efficiency will follow.

Do the right thing!


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Family news: Proud moment - Our daughter Fatmata (Binta) Bah is the proud recipient of the Middle School Ambassador award for 2018

DAA Grade 8 Completion Ceremony (2018): Our daughter Fatmata (Binta) Bah is the proud recipient of the Middle School Ambassador award f...