Ebola Awareness Clowns: Deadly Serious | ActionAid UK

Ebola Awareness Clowns: Deadly Serious

As the Ebola death toll rises to almost 5,000 people and the virus continues to spread across West Africa, clowns are helping us reach thousands of people in Sierra Leone. Scroll through our photo story below to find out how.

Men dressed as clowns riding an ActionAid truck to help raise awareness of Ebola in rural Sierra Leone

How to spread the word

One of the biggest challenges for aid workers trying to contain the virus on the ground is that many people cannot read newspapers and don’t have access to televisions or the internet, and sadly they don’t trust information coming from official sources.

This means there’s a lot of confusion about how Ebola is contracted, and the only way to get information to them is via word of mouth, through their communities or radio.

Local radio presenter Aliie Badara says: “In the beginning the people were running away from us. They thought we were going to vaccinate them with the Ebola virus. There were so many rumours.”

ActionAid clowns making a huge difference

That’s why we’ve been using around 10 Ebola clowns across Kono and Bo districts to help overcome fears and bust Ebola myths.

Mohamed Fofana, ActionAid’s Head of Programmes in Kono and Bo, whose idea it was to bring in the clowns said: “The Ebola clowns have made a huge difference in breaking down fear and stigma, especially with children.”

The clowns have helped us reach almost 50,000 people in Sierra Leone, including over 12,000 children.

There are still thousands more people to reach though. We need your support to continue our life saving work.

Further reading on Ebola

This blog was updated on 5 November 2014.

Photos: ActionAid