Placeholder Image

字幕列表 影片播放

  • Sometimes,

  • you have a negative feeling about things.

  • You're not happy about the way things are going.

  • You feel frustrated and dissatisfied,

  • and so often, we choose to live with it.

  • It's a negative that we tell ourselves we have to endure.

  • And yet, I passionately believe

  • that we all have the ability

  • to turn that negative feeling

  • into a positive

  • by allowing our dissatisfaction

  • to give birth to change.

  • On January 6, 1999,

  • I was working in London

  • when the news channels began to report

  • the rebel invasion of my hometown,

  • Freetown, Sierra Leone.

  • Thousands of people lost their lives,

  • and there were bodies littering the streets of Freetown.

  • My husband's elderly aunt was burned alive,

  • and I thought of my own two-year old

  • as I saw images of little children with amputated limbs.

  • Colleagues said to me,

  • "How could we help?"

  • I didn't know,

  • so I began to call the telephone numbers that came up on my screen

  • as international aid agencies started to make appeals

  • to raise money to address the tragedy.

  • The vagueness of those telephone conversations disappointed me.

  • It felt like the people who were raising the money

  • seemed so far removed from the crisis,

  • and understandably so,

  • but I wasn't satisfied

  • and I wasn't convinced

  • that the interventions they would eventually implement

  • would actually have the level of impact that was so clearly needed.

  • There were butterflies in my stomach for days

  • as I continued to watch horrors unfold on television,

  • and I continuously asked myself,

  • what could I be doing?

  • What should I be doing?

  • What I wanted to do was to help children affected by the war.

  • So that's what we did.

  • Myself, my sister and some friends

  • started the Sierra Leone War Trust For Children, SLWT.

  • We decided to focus on the thousands of displaced people

  • that fled the fighting

  • and were now living in really poor, difficult conditions

  • in camps in Freetown.

  • Our work started with the Ross Road Camp

  • at the east end of the city.

  • Working with a local health organization,

  • we identified about 130 of the most vulnerable single mothers

  • with children under the age of five,

  • supporting them by providing business skills,

  • microcredit,

  • whatever they asked us.

  • Working in those difficult conditions,

  • just getting the basics right, was no small task,

  • but our collective sense of dissatisfaction

  • at an unacceptable status quo

  • kept us focused on getting things done.

  • Some of those women went on to open small businesses,

  • repaid their loans

  • and allowed other mothers and their children

  • to have the same opportunity they did.

  • And we, we kept on going.

  • In 2004, we opened an agricultural training center

  • for ex-child soldiers,

  • and when the war was behind us,

  • we started a scholarship program for disadvantaged girls

  • who would otherwise not be able to continue in school.

  • Today, Stella, one of those girls,

  • is about to qualify as a medical doctor.

  • It's amazing what a dose of dissatisfaction can birth.

  • (Applause)

  • Ten years later, in 2014,

  • Sierra Leone was struck by Ebola.

  • I was working in Freetown at the time on a hotel construction project on May 25

  • when the first cases were announced,

  • but I was back in London on July 30

  • when the state of emergency was announced,

  • the same day that many airlines stopped their flights to Sierra Leone.

  • I remember crying for hours,

  • asking God, why this? Why us?

  • But beyond the tears,

  • I began to feel again

  • that profound sense of dissatisfaction.

  • So when, six months after those first cases had been confirmed,

  • the disease was still spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone

  • and the number of people infected and dying continued to rise,

  • my level of frustration and anger

  • got so much that I knew I could not stay

  • and watch the crisis from outside Sierra Leone.

  • So, in mid-November,

  • I said goodbye to my much loved

  • and very understanding husband and children,

  • and boarded a rather empty plane

  • to Freetown.

  • Freetown was now the epicenter of the outbreak.

  • There were hundreds of new cases every week.

  • I spoke to many medical experts,

  • epidemiologists

  • and ordinary people every day.

  • Everyone was really scared.

  • "We won't succeed until we're talking to people under the mango tree."

  • So said Dr. Yoti,

  • a Ugandan doctor who worked for WHO

  • and who had been involved in pretty much every Ebola outbreak

  • in Africa previously.

  • He was right,

  • and yet there was no plan to make that happen.

  • So during a weekend in early December,

  • I developed a plan that became known as the Western Area Surge plan.

  • We needed to talk with people,

  • not at people.

  • We needed to work with the community influencers

  • so people believed our message.

  • We needed to be talking under the mango tree,

  • not through loudspeakers.

  • And we needed more beds.

  • The National Ebola Response Center, NERC,

  • built on and implemented that plan,

  • and by the third week of January,

  • the number of cases had fallen dramatically.

  • I was asked to serve

  • as a new Director of Planning for NERC,

  • which took me right across the country,

  • trying to stay ahead of the outbreak

  • but also following it

  • to remote villages in the provinces

  • as well as to urban slum communities.

  • On one occasion, I got out of my car

  • to call for help for a man who had collapsed on the road.

  • I accidentally stepped in liquid

  • that was coming down the road from where he lay.

  • I rushed to my parents' house,

  • washed my feet in chlorine.

  • I'll never forget waiting for that man's test results

  • as I constantly checked my temperature then and throughout the outbreak.

  • The Ebola fight was probably the most challenging

  • but rewarding experience of my life,

  • and I'm really grateful

  • for the dissatisfaction

  • that opened up the space

  • for me to serve.

  • Dissatisfaction can be a constant presence in the background,

  • or it can be sudden,

  • triggered by events.

  • Sometimes it's both.

  • With my hometown, that's the way it was.

  • For years, our city had changed,

  • and it had caused me great pain.

  • I remember a childhood

  • growing up climbing trees,

  • picking mangoes and plums

  • on the university campus where my father was a lecturer.

  • Went fishing in the streams deep in the botanical gardens.

  • The hillsides around Freetown were covered with lush green vegetation,

  • and the beaches were clean and pristine.

  • The doubling of the population of Freetown in the years that followed the civil war,

  • and the lack of planning and building control

  • resulted in massive deforestation.

  • The trees, the natural beauty, were destroyed as space was made

  • for new communities, formal or informal,

  • and for the cutting down of firewood.

  • I was deeply troubled and dissatisfied.

  • It wasn't just the destruction of the trees and the hillsides

  • that bothered me.

  • It was also the impact of people,

  • as infrastructure failed to keep up with the growth of the population:

  • no sanitation systems to speak of,

  • a dirty city with typhoid, malaria and dysentery.