Faith Leaders in Sierra Leone
Religious leaders are among the most trusted members of their communities in Sierra Leone, with people turning to them for advice, especially in times of social calamities. In late 2014, there was a concerted effort to involve faith leaders in the response. It had become clear that safer practices needed to be advocated while respecting people’s core beliefs, and that they needed to be religiously and culturally adapted to make them more effective.
In Sierra Leone, FOCUS 1000, with support from CDC and others, assisted religious leaders to search for scriptural evidence from both the Qur’an and Bible to support public messages being promoted to prevent Ebola transmission. Imams and clergy identified passages that gave a religious context to the new burial practices, as well as to handwashing and quarantine issues, showing that they were acceptable according to their faiths. FOCUS 1000 trained more than 5,000 imams, pastors, women, and youth leaders in some 4,000 mosques and churches across the country.
Religious Texts Supporting Safe Practices
The images below show passages in the Qur’an and Bible that were highlighted to give religious context to the new burial practices, as well as to handwashing and quarantine issues.
Reverend Christiana Sutton-Koroma of the Congregational Evangelical Mission in Freetown, Sierra Leone tells us how she encourages the members of her congregation to prevent and control Ebola. Courtesy of SMAC