Overview: In January 2017, UNICEF Sierra Leone commissioned Namuh to work on a story about a program that provided education to teenage girls who became pregnant before or during the Ebola outbreak. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), more than 14,000 teenage girls became pregnant during this time in Sierra Leone. This included 11,000 who were in school prior to the outbreak. The program, which offered math and language classes along with antenatal services, health advice, and psycho-social support, was part of an initiative supported by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, UNICEF, UNFPA, IrishAid and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Goal: Mariatu Bangura, 18, found out she was pregnant during a very difficult time in Sierra Leone. The country was in the middle of an Ebola epidemic and schools were closed down. When schools were reopened, pregnant girls were not able to return to school. While at the stream one morning, Mariatu found out that the educational program for pregnant girls was being offered at a school near her home. 

Our objective was to show how the educational program helped to support Mariatu and girls like her, who became pregnant during and before Ebola, by allowing them to continue their education. We also wanted to show the importance of girls education in Sierra Leone. Mabinty Kubra Turay, Manager of Kubra Agricultural Secondary School, where Mariatu now attends, says, “When you help to educate a girl, in fact you will break the barrier of poverty in that family. They will not only tend to help their family, they will extend the help to other families.” 

Challenges: When we traveled to Rokupr, Sierra Leone, the UNICEF staff had previously chosen three people to be part of the story during an earlier visit to the community. After arriving, all three people were unable to be part of the story because of various circumstances. We were then put in touch with Mariatu. We did a short interview with her and felt like she was a great fit for the story. We spent the next few days arriving at her house at dawn and filming her at home and at school. It took some time and testing out multiple locations to find a quiet place for interviews. Once we found a good location, we were met shortly after by groups of boys arriving at the same place, excited to play soccer. We ended up having to continue that interview into the next day, but we were able to squeeze it in before conducting the second interview.

Client: UNICEF
Subject: Mariatu Bangura, 18
Location: Rokupr, Sierra Leone

Local Logistics Coordinator: Harriet Christiana Mason (UNICEF)
Videography: Sarah Grile
Photography: Sarah Grile
Editing: Sarah Grile
Music: Biblo