Faith leaders working together to combat malaria
One of the most inspiring things in my work as a Faith Acts Fellow in Sierra Leone is seeing leaders of different faiths working hand in hand to combat malaria.
During our upcountry visit, Josephine and I witnessed interfaith pairs and groups in action in five different districts in the Northern provinces. In Magburaka and Mile 91, Sheik Idriss Kamara and Reverend Samuel Conteh trained their Malaria Faith Champions (MFCs) together. The pair went first to the mosque of Sheikh Idriss in Magburaka on the 16th August and they proceeded to the United Methodist Church of Reverend Conteh in Mile 91 the day after. Unfortunately, they did not have a camera to document these events. However in my mind, I have the extraordinary image of a Muslim Sheikh inside a church training both Muslims and Christians to be MFCs.
In Kono, we have a sheikh and a reverend pairing as well. Sheikh Tamba Mohamed Kassegbama and Reverend Sahr Christian Fayia conducted their trainings together. When we visited Makeni, we invited both of them to come and see us since we were advised against travelling all the way to Kono because of the rugged roads. Only Sheikh Kassegbama made it because Reverend Fayia was not in town. I was delighted to see that Sheikh Kassegbama brought some of the reports of Reverend Fayia and he even volunteered to collect the MFC t-shirts for the reverend. It was a significant sacrifice considering the difficulty of travelling for three hours on bad road using only public transport!
We also have a very impressive group of Malaria Faith Ambassadors (MFAs) in Makeni, which is composed of a Catholic nurse, a Methodist leader, a sheik and a reverend. They train together, meet regularly and even visit the households together. Port Loko, Kabala and Kambia also have sheikhs and reverends working in tandem.
I am very much convinced that this campaign will succeed, and it is only because the religious leaders here in Sierra Leone can work together harmoniously, respect each other’s differences and appreciate the beauty and power of diversity.