Will you Unite4WestAfrica and help us fight ebola today?
Original post: Another World Adventures
Ebola has killed nearly 5000 people and over 10,000 have been infected this year, many in the place that has been my second home for 2 and half years, Liberia.
The explosive spread of Ebola in West Africa is not just killing the infected but ripping apart health services, devastating communities, and destroying people’s ability to support themselves both in the countries affected and in regions far far away on the other side of the continent where business and leisure travelers are cancelling plans for fear of contamination due to poor & hysterical media reporting. The outbreak is not only a health crisis, but also a humanitarian crisis with global dimensions.
We must help stop the spread. Which is why I have teamed up with some exceptional people to put a campaign together that we hope will raise essential funds for Doctors Without Borders who have been working relentlessly since the start and also 5 fantastic grassroots organisations for whom even a small bit of funding will go a very long way.
On the 4th November the group launched the campaign at the World Travel Market – here’s my speech during the press conference.
Hello, my name is Larissa Clark, I’m the co-founder of Adventure travel company, Another World Adventures. I have lived and worked in Liberia for over two and a half years and had the pleasure to travel and experience a fair amount of West Africa in that time.
It’s a great honour to be here today.
First let me thank you all for arranging this very interesting and important session and giving us an opportunity to launch this campaign.
I think we can all agree that although Ebola is a very big problem right now there is a significant opportunity for the travel industry to come together and unite in ensuring that longer term negative economic, social and environmental impacts are minimised across the West African region, indeed the African continent.
I only have a few minutes to talk to you about a campaign, called Unite4WestAfrica, that we hope will be able to do just that and which we hope as many people as possible will support.
Unite 4 West Africa is our effort within the travel industry to support the people of West Africa in response to the Ebola outbreak and its devastating collateral consequences across the region.
The Unite 4 West Africa campaign has been established by four organisations; West Africa Discovery, Overlanding West Africa, Another World Adventures, and Barefoot Liberia – representatives of which are all here today. More than 15 other organisations have joined on so far, including the Africa Travel Association, Intrepid Travel, Explore! G Adventures and Dragoman Overland and we hope many more will follow giving the campaign as much support and exposure as they can.
U4WA is a call to action to the travel industry, the arts, and passionate individuals to do two things:
1) Raise funds for those tackling the virus on the ground in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone
2) Raise awareness in a fair and non-hysterical way about Ebola and travel. While Ebola is hitting hard in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone it is not affecting the rest of the region or continent and in countries where Ebola does not exist it should be business as usual
We hope that those involved in the campaign will pledge a commitment to continue sharing the story of West Africa’s beautiful land, culture and people with an emphasis on the most affected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, now and post-Ebola so that these countries do not suffer a long term stigma from this terrible virus and that they can be put back on the map for the right reasons, not the current ones.
Through the campaign website www.unite4westafrica.org , #unite4westafrica, social media, concerts, and events geared at sharing the beauty of West Africa, we want to encourage a more positive story of the region, particularly those affected countries. An image of hope, fascinating cultures, and breathtaking landscapes.
We want to remind the world that West African countries are known for being friendly, beautiful, exciting and colourful places where hospitality and the arts rule, and where adventure and cultural experiences lie around every corner.
Part of our mission is to encourage travel and exploration of West Africa, as well as the entire continent, to areas that have been deemed safe.
Our biggest message? And the one we most implore writers, journalists, bloggers and editors to spell out loud and clear? Africa is a continent, not a country.
I’ve read some depressing reports in the past few weeks:
About half of the more than 500 safari operators surveyed by SafariBookings in late September reported declines in bookings of 20 to 70 percent.
Tanzania’s hotels have reported a 30 percent drop in business, while 2015 bookings have plummeted 50 percent.
A report last month by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa found that 55 percent of tour operators, travel agents, and other tourist-dependent companies have seen a negative impact on their business.
Africa is the world’s second largest continent.
It is bigger than Europe, the United States, and China combined, but since the virus was declared as a global health threat in August, business and leisure travelers have tended to view Africa as a single country that they are determined to avoid.
Again, I want to highlight that only three countries out of a continent of more than 50 have been significantly affected by the current Ebola outbreak to date and this is what we must convey.
There is currently no reason why other countries in West Africa such as Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon and others, should not be visited, let alone countries on the other side of the continent like Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa.
And of course all efforts should be made to resume travel to the affected countries as soon as it is safe to do so.
In terms of fundraising; individuals and organisations can make donations via the campaign website unite4westafrica.org.
We will raise funds, in part, for Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who are leading the way in saving lives on the ground and have been doing so since the spring. They have lost over a dozen members of staff in fighting this disease and we must help their effort.
U4WA will also raise funds for a group of hand-selected grass roots non-profit organisations that have been identified as leaders in community awareness, child & orphan support services, education and health services in the most affected countries.
In Liberia – Monrovia Kriterion & Project Kids Engagement
In Sierra Leone – Street Child & Welt Hunger Hilfe
In Guinea – Antenna Tinkisso
Via the website you can make a single donation which is split between these groups or link directly to them to donate. We are asking our friends in the industry and all those searching for a means to help this unfathomable crisis to support our efforts by assisting in our fundraising goals and helping us to share a positive story of West Africa.
So, what can you find on the campaign website?
- Balanced informative news links to excellent reports from Eboladeeply.org
- Pledge forms for individuals and organisations to sign
- Fundraising materials and ideas
- Images and media packs to download and share with your social networks
There’s a lot you can do and every individual effort will help.
If you think you are too small to make a difference … you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito!
Let’s do what we can in this time of crisis; please join us and Unite4WestAfrica today.
www.unite4westafrica.org or make a donation via http://www.inspiredchallenge.com/fundraising/unite-4-west-africa