Put your hands together in SolidariTEA
The Faiths Act SolidariTEA campaign is an opportunity to bring groups of people with diverse faiths together to highlight the importance of the human right to health. In Sierra Leone, where malaria – a preventable disease - still causes a significant amount of deaths, the need for gathering those with a passion to preserve the lives and dignity of their neighbours is paramount.
Therefore, on Tuesday 13th December 2011, 25 Christian and Muslim faith leaders joined the Sierra Leone Fellows, along with the rest of the global community to share time with each other, while drinking tea, during their training to become Malaria Faith Ambassadors in their local communities. The training is designed to equip faith leaders with knowledge of malaria and communication skills that they can use to mobilise champions in their communities to spread these messages of malaria prevention.
After conducting a role play on how to educate the community about the five key messages, the hall was transformed into a SolidariTEA hub, where all 25 Ambassadors in training happily sipped cups of tea, while discussing with each other, how they were going to use their new knowledge to in their sermons and kutuhbas.
The faith leaders were all excited about the event, as they had helped to design the campaign banner, the previous Thursday, at their orientation session. The faith leaders had contributed by leaving painted handprints as a declaration that they will use their hands as tools for social action in order to save lives from malaria.
Many elements of the banner have particular relevance for the Ambassadors. While the hand prints symbolises the commitment by faith leaders to working together to take the gospel of health and well-being to their communities, the colours blue, green and white are taken from the Salonean flag, while the colour red symbolises the current ruling party in Sierra Leone, who in 2010, passed the Free Health Care Initiative for mothers, pregnant women and babies and children under five, ensuring those who are most susceptible to dying from malaria have greater access to healthcare. The participants appreciated that this signified a nationwide effort to work together, with faith being central to their work as Ambassadors.
During the SolidariTEA break, the participants were able to reflect on the previous session on the causes and symptoms of malaria and why it was so important to educate people about it, and this formed the basis of their conversations. The Tea break ended with the Ambassadors in training raising their cups for SolidariTEA, their minds stimulated and ready for the next sessions on Communication and Volunteering in the faith perspectives.
Banke Adetayo, Faiths Act Fellow