One of our all time-fave fashion photographers and directors is Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, who has not only shot some of the world’s biggest names such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga, but also dedicates much of her time lending her talents to raise awareness for important issues.
Now that the Ebola virus has hit the United States and there has been a death reported, judging by the rapid spread of the deadly infection in West Africa, this is no longer something that can be ignored. There are healthcare workers tirelessly giving their time and energy to looking after sick patients in Africa and on the lookout for breakouts here in the US.
In Texas, it was recently reported that 5 kids were infected with Ebola after they came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die from this Ebola outbreak in the US, and they are being monitored. But it is not just a matter of waiting it out, there are significant ways we can all help. Indrani has teamed up with the AFYA Foundation to create a video campaign, which is giving us information how to get involved.
Afya are known for creating campaigns which mobilize the masses to help get medical supplied in areas where a crisis has hit.
The Afya Foundation is organizing a 120,000-lb. shipment of surgical gowns, masks, gloves and other critically needed supplies to Freetown, Sierra Leone in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. They have already shipped 15,192 lbs. of supplies to other partners in Western Africa (14,319 into Liberia & 873 into Sierre Leone).
They have received over $1.7 million in corporate donations for the supplies, and are now looking to everyday people to donate in helping get the supplies to the healthcare workers in Africa. The more efforts to stop the deadly virus at its origin, the less we will hear statistics such as the Centers for Disease control predicting the number of Ebola cases will increase from roughly 5000 to 1.4 million by January 2015.
“We are talking about humanity, we’re not talking about here and over there. We have an ethical responsibility to give voice to those who have traditionally not been listened to or responded to proactively. When I founded the Afya Foundation in 2008 it was prompted by a visit to Tanzania where I witnessed first-hand the lack of access to medical supplies and even the most basic supplies needed to maintain a standard of health that we take for granted. It is unimaginable to witness this and not respond immediately and that is the core of Afya’s work,” said executive director Danielle Butin.
Scott Goodson, who works for ad agency StrawberryFrog who produced the campaign said he wanted to communicate to parents here in America that there is hope and by working together to stop Ebola spreading further in West Africa, it will have an impact on what happens in their home.
“I think the scare in Texas woke me up to the risk of not doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. I didn’t want people to lose faith or have apathy to this issue but to help AfyaFoundation.org.”
Scott reached out to his friend Indrani, who was in the middle of shooting a fashion campaign, and asked her to shoot something in 3 days.
“Scott and StrawberryFrog create brilliant campaigns starting cultural movements, and that’s exactly what’s needed here, to motivate people to turn their fears into action to help make a difference. Though we usually work with celebrities and brands, we were happy to shoot with our friends and family as actors and production team, to create a video that reminds us all that beyond the statistics are real people whom we can save,” she said.
The deadly virus is spread from human contact through the exchange of bodily fluids. Sweat, blood, and saliva are all carriers of the disease. Prevention is the key element of protection, and if proper precautions aren’t taken before, during and after contact with an infected person, the virus is easily spread. Ebola has a mortality rate of 90%.
Now that we know it is no longer a problem far away across the world, it is important that public figures, organizations and companies with great financial resources band together to create awareness and help out those in need. Another movement that has been gaining attention online is the #ShakeEbolaOff campaign started by two women in Los Angeles, Crystal Fambrini and Nzinga Blake.
TV Host Nzinga is the daughter of former Sierra Leone Minister of Information and Broadcast Dr. Cecil Blake, and has lived in Africa, although she is now based in the United States. She and Crystal started this idea to raise money for Emergency USA, a San Francisco-based non-profit which is currently runs the only fully functioning hospital in Sierra Leone.
Nzinga and Crystal decided they were going to make their campaign about dance.
“Dance is intrinsic to African culture and it is an art form that is used to communicate and bring people together. We wanted to adopt that energy into this challenge. Ebola is a problem that affects us all on a global scale. To end this outbreak it must be stopped at its source,” Nzinga told Ryot news.
“This outbreak has completely crippled the economy. Schools and businesses are closed. Families who are infected are being ostracized from the community because people are afraid of contracting the virus. Health care workers have lost their lives. There is a lot of work to do.”
They designed the viral campaign to work similar to that of the ALS ice bucket challenge, where you upload a video, nominate someone else in a pay-it-forward style idea, and encourage people to donate most importantly. They have leveraged their own Hollywood community to get involved, and so far the word has spread to big names such as Kevin Bacon, who in true ‘Footloose’ spirit, uploaded a video and encouraged his fans to donate.
Ebola is real, and it is no respecter of our boundaries or fears. But we do have the power to stop it in its tracks, or help those who are involved in working around the clock to make it happen.
Together we can fight this, and what Indrani, StrawberryFrog and the #shakeebolaoff campaign shows is that everyone’s contribution is crucial. Be sure to click on the links above for AFYA Foundation and Emergency USA if you want to get involved directly or donate to their mission.