Former United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Information Associate with the Community Outreach Unit, Mr Sabato Neufville wants the support of the Government for his “team” to help prevent the coronavirus from wrecking untold loss of life and suffering on Liberians.
The global pandemic has hit Liberia, and at least three Liberians since Sunday, March 15, have been infected, the government has announced.
Speaking with the New Republic recently, Sabato said he is an expert in community outreach sensitization and awareness and has worked with traditional groups of which his works have been proven over the years when he was with UNMIL, especially during the deadly Ebola virus.
“I am happy to share my experiences of how we used traditional groups of communicators and traditional means of communication to stem the tide of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia,” Mr Neufville who is the current proprietor of the Kingsley Lington Academy in Fendell said.
The former community mobilizer said his biggest worry is for Liberians in the rural areas who may not have heard about the virus, “and they need to be educated on its signs and symptoms and how to prevent them from being affected.”
Furthermore, he stressed: “Those in Monrovia and other big cities in the country have access to social media, radio, television and the newspapers to get their information on the virus. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for rural Liberia and even in densely populated and deprived communities in the city.”
He maintained that what Liberians need now is not fear or panic, but a trusted outlet through which they could get the right information for lives to be saved.
“In 2014, I was involved in mobilizing popular Liberian musicians to produce an Ebola prevention music album with songs in different dialects. I also worked with one of Liberia’s foremost comedians, Georgio Boutini to produce a regular radio program on UNMIL Radio that educated Liberians on the virus. Also, we produced flyers, posters and billboards with Ebola messages.”
Asked why he would want to volunteer to fight against a potential coronavirus attack on Liberia, Mr. Neufville said: “Reaching out to grassroots communities to effect behavioral change or to address fears and rumors is something I have been doing since 2004. I worked with UNMIL in getting former combatants to disarm and join the DDR process. I also travelled throughout the country in 2005, educating Liberians on the need to vote and to allow for a violence-free election. In 2016, when UNMIL was planning its drawdown, I was put in charge of the peace caravan that visited all the fifteen counties encouraging Liberians to take over the security responsibility of their country.”
He says the skills he gained with UNMIL in planning and organizing social mobilization and campaigns are what he hopes to give back to Liberia in the fight against the Coronavirus.
“My team and l can bigly help to spread the messages in the 15 counties about the preventive methods if we are hired,” Sabato said.