Liberia: “I’m Ready to Join in the Fight against Coronavirus” -Former UNMIL Community Outreach Officer, Sabato J. Neufville
Monrovia – Former United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Information Associate with the Community Outreach Unit, Mr. Sabato J. Neufville, has expressed his willingness to help prevent the coronavirus disease from wrecking untold suffering on Liberians as did Ebola did a few years ago.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica recently after President George Weah announced to the entire world that Liberia had reported its first case of what is now a global pandemic, Neufville, who was one of UNMIL’s main Ebola fighters, expressed his willingness to help the Liberian government in its fight against the present menace.
“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,” Neufville, who is the proprietor of the Kingsley Lington Academy in Fendall, said. He also warned that the fight against COVID_19 shouldn’t be mixed with politics.
The former UNMIL community mobilizer said his biggest worry is for Liberians in the rural areas who may not have heard adequate pieces of information 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.”
Neufville told FrontPageAfrica 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 and recruiting popular Liberian musicians, including Madam Juli Endee and her Crusaders for Peace, 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.”
“Those very basic materials we used in the fight against Ebola during UNMIL time, we still have all of them. The speakers-PA systems- all the fellows who did the arts works, I mean the graphic artists, the comedians, our video units-all are still in tight to do just this kind of work for our country,” he stated.
Asked why he would want to volunteer to fight against a potential deadly disease and attack on Liberia, 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 for 16 years in getting former combatants to disarm and join the DDRR 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 15 counties encouraging Liberia’s to take over the security responsibility of their country.”
He stated that during the Ebola, the network he created throughout the country for the fight is still in intact despite UNMIL being gone for a few years now. “We had and still have 11 groups of traditional communicators, including Flomo Theatre, Malawala Balawala, Liberia Youth Network, Lofa Youth Network, Musician Union of Liberia, United Youth, Youth for Maryland, Traditional Peace Theatre, WIPNET, DEN-L, all of these groups are still here.”
According to the former UNMIL Community Outreach Officer, 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 Covid_19.
He took FrontPageAfrica on a tour of all the equipment that UNMIL left in his care. He also personally have more than four vehicles, which he said he is ready to roll out should the government include him in the fight against COVID_19.