Since 2014, we have led an open-participation, international effort to permanently preserve the experiences and stories of thousands of individuals who contributed to ending the West Africa Ebola Outbreak of 2014-2015.
The Ebola 100 Project started out as an idea, or rather, as an answer to a question on the minds of thousands of humanitarians, academics, health workers, and community leaders who had fought to end the West Africa Ebola Outbreak. Responders felt that they'd seen so much, and learned so much, but that there wasn't anyone that they could talk to, and they weren't sure what stories to tell.
Through the initial leadership of Sharon Abramowitz and Jamie Bedson, the Ebola 100 Project sought to tell the stories that weren't captured in glossy Time magazine covers, New York Times front pages, or international "lessons-learned" reports and experiences. It sought to capture the inspiring, painful, shattering, and redemptive moments of a crisis that impacted millions of people, but often missed the role that those very people played in ending the emergency. Our initial goal was to interview 100 people from around the world; just 1, 3, or 5 per interviewer. We sought diversity of experiences, rather than the structuring uniformity of lessons-learned. Most importantly, we asked people to tell their stories their own way, as best they could, in their own voices.
From the beginning, the project has been voluntary, collaborative, multi-institutional, and international in aspect. Notably, it has also been overwhelmingly female-driven, inclusive of both junior and senior scholars, and sustained a strong open-door policy. The Ebola 100 Project was structured as loose confederation of qualitative researchers, NGO workers, and humanitarian actors sharing a common set of tools - a shared questionnaire, a core set of ethics protocols and priorities, and a common vision for a distinctly anthropological and community-centered approach to the epidemic. Our goal was, and remains, the establishment of a permanent, open-access, online archive of the Ebola response that would be available into perpetuity to provide lessons for future epidemic and humanitarian events.
Researchers and interviewers had no funding, institutional recognition, or sanctioning for the hours of efforts that they provided obtaining interviews and conducting recordings. Technical support, institutional support, and funding came - often just in the nick of time - through our institutional partners and donors. The challenges we confronted by deviating from conventional models of research nearly sank the project on several occasions, and nearly imperiled our hopes of finding the project a permanent home. Despite these challenges, the commitment of our interviewees, organizers, and informants continue to give us the push needed to overcome the challenges of advancing collaborative, interdisciplinary, experience-centered, open access qualitative research for policy, research, and practice.
What We've Achieved
- Collected approximately 200 interviews with former responders to the West Africa Ebola epidemic
- Prioritized community engagement, social mobilization, and epidemiological flexibility and responsiveness in post-epidemic research
- Created an international network of more than 40 people for EVD and infectious disease research and collaboration
- Maintained a consistent voice for the inclusion of qualitative evidence in epidemic preparedness and response
- We also have supported related research projects:
- EVD vaccine development (Dalhousie/CIHR)
- Maternal and child health; healthcare workers experiences (Yale University/University of Florida)
- Global Health and Humanitarian aid flows
- Provided primary and secondary research experience to undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral historians, social scientists, and NGO actors