Stories Stories Airing the issues: Radio in Sierra Leone Motivated to see Sierra Leone progress in developing its infrastructure and services post-Ebola, the communities around the capital, Freetown, are working to improve living conditions by addressing practical community issues. they are faced with huge challenges which as a community they are developing strategies to surmount. Feba has been working in partnership with Believers’ Broadcasting Network (BBN) a Christian Freetown-based radio station with teams engaging in community conversations. As they visit people living in the community, the team listen deeply to their stories and concerns, and help identify strengths and hope for change. After a visit in one community, a team member noted: "We found people to be full of hope and concerned about the wellbeing of each other and their community as a whole. Even as they are making efforts to get their lives back to normal, they are faced with huge challenges which as a community they are developing strategies to surmount." One team heads off for a community visit Listening actively and deeply to what people have to say guides the content for the radio programmes. These provide an outlet for people to tell their stories and raise their concerns, engaging others in the conversation and contributing to bringing people together to work for change. Raising issues The condition of the roads, access to healthcare, the need for pipe-borne water and the provision of more local amenities are all issues raised in conversation that have been discussed on the BBN radio programme, Social Issues. Some communities have come together to start work on addressing these issues. For example, the people in one community, which started participating in the project in June 2016, have been contributing small amounts of cash to a community fund which has enabled them to install a water pump, build a bridge over a swamp and start construction of a school. Before the Ebola epidemic everybody had jobs in the community. I was an electrician. I had a normal job . . . but after Ebola struck, it was not easy. The radio programmes provide the opportunity to speak and be heard more widely. In one programme, residents of a community spoke about how Ebola had affected them. Local resident Gibrilla said: “Before the Ebola epidemic everybody had jobs in the community. I was an electrician. I had a normal job . . . but after Ebola struck, it was not easy.” Marian shared her situation, saying: “I was a business woman selling yoghurt. People were afraid to buy food from the street to eat. It was difficult to sell and to make money.” Another resident, Adama, spoke about the effect on social interaction, saying: “We used to share things in common and keep good company . . . but when Ebola came, people were afraid to congregate and come around, especially if they saw the police. They would scatter and run away because you were not allowed to be in groups so as to prevent the spread of Ebola.” Breaking the silence In their eagerness to put past troubles behind them, moving on can also lead people to retreat into silence. During the Ebola outbreak enforced lock-down, quarantine and curfews created isolation, secrecy and an ongoing sense of distrust. Speaking and being heard plays an essential part in healing, working against the silence to bring reconciliation and reunification. Our partner is helping this process by creating a radio drama using some of the more personal stories. Some issues facing the community, like roads and water, are relatively easy to talk about; other issues have been driven deep inside people by the trauma they have lived through as a country. It is our hope that in speaking about the practical, everyday issues, in time, people will find courage to talk about the issues that remain hidden.