Fighting the Fever
A community-led journalism project from the frontline of malaria in Sierra Leone
“It is a gem of a story because it’s ongoing; it’s one night on the front line.”
Peter Parker – Duty Editor, Reuters and judge at Rory Peck Awards
“It was a very intimate story… that brought to life a condition that is not really reported enough.”
Adrienne Mong, NBC and judge at Rory Peck Awards
“The camera work is exceptional. Their craft is extraordinary. They are masters at this.”
Sue Turton, judge at Rory Peck Awards
Finalist: Rory Peck Awards
“Malaria is an unusual subject to see in the news because sadly it’s so common, but they approached it in a way that makes it hard to forget”
Jeremy Bowen, BBC and judge at One World Media awards
Finalist: One World Media Awards
“People say if you haven’t had malaria, you’re not a true Sierra Leonean. We are a network of citizen reporters in Sierra Leone who have spent the last year gathering stories from people affected by malaria in all walks of life. These films chart how the stories of our lives here – of school days, love, work and parenthood – are wrapped up in the story of this dangerous killer.”
We made a series of films, each narrated by members of our reporting network in Sierra Leone. The films chart the economic impacts of malaria for those who are forced to miss work, the devastating threat malaria poses on mothers and fathers, and the heroic efforts of frontline health workers. As part of this project we made a documentary called the Night Shift for the BBC (see below), a multimedia feature for the Telegraph and a web-documentary for the New Internationalist. In Kamakwie, we co-produced a film following the only doctor on the malaria ward for 24 hours with BBC Africa.
We trained over 40 reporters from malaria-affected communities around Sierra Leone to document the daily impact of life with malaria. We developed a series of stories remotely via SMS and audio and ran ‘story-dive’ workshops with our reporters before working with them to narrate this series of five films. Our team produced and directed the films whilst the reporters identified stories, negotiated access, led the interviews and narrated the films.
The project was covered by Channel 4 and the BBC as part of their coverage of the Rory Peck awards.
The doctors in the Night Shift documentary were contacted by a global NGO to become international malaria advocates and our reporter Mohamed put the findings of his report to the mayor of Freetown to ask her what she was going to do to improve malaria prevalence in slum communities.
Alongside this, the network of community reporters captured the concerns and ideas of their communities across Sierra Leone and, for Dr Faso, this involved following his experiences as the only doctor on duty for a week – Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital is in the northern region of Sierra Leone and serves over 300,000 people. This film was featured in the ‘must see’ section on the BBC News homepage on World Malaria Day 2021.
We worked with BBC Digital, the Telegraph and New Internationalist. This project was supported by Comic Relief.