The 21 Scary Days of Ebola: Saa’s Narrow Escape

Saa wants to change the lives of children through sports.

As I finish writing this email, I will rush to attend the funeral of the most senior health worker in the district I leave. He got infected with Ebola and did not survive. This morning and as I write now, there were 16 dead bodies abandoned on the streets of Freetown. – Moses Saa, Director, Score Sierra Leone. Thursday, October 17.

My friend, Saa wrote this email to me last week. He did this from an Internet café where his connection got disrupted multiple times.

Saa, like so many others in Sierra Leone is just surviving- trying hard to stay away from Ebola.

Just recently, he and his wife had the scariest 21 days of their lives. His wife,  a trained nurse with about 15 years experience did a blood test on a pregnant woman for malaria on September 8. Four days later, the woman died of Ebola.

“My wife became very worried she was not eating properly and not sleeping well because of the fear that she might have been infected and would have possibly passed it on to me.”

She was traumatized.

“On the 15th we isolated ourselves from our children. We tried to do some tests but there were no Ebola signs and symptoms but we were both still scared.”

What was their biggest scare? Not just death. “But who will take care of our children? Those nights I looked at my youngest son- aged 11 in his eyes and imagined he will be an orphan at any moment. It was stressful but thank God the 21 days have passed and both of us did not develop any signs. We are okay.”

Saa is a social worker who wants to redefine the way his people live and work in Sierra Leone. A committed nonprofit advocate, Saa’s organization, Score Sierra Leone  is  using the power of sports to bring discipline among young people. He wants  youngsters to break the barriers of tribalism, ethnicity and regional divide.

The easiest thing I can do for Saa is to build a website for his organization, Score Sierra Leone. Once we launch it, I’d strongly urge you to take a look at the amazing things he is doing for children, despite the odds.

Building effective relationships matters

On either side of the Atlantic, the wisdom you get to build relationships with your donors is interesting to learn. This came  true when  Professor Ian Bruce, President, Center for Charity Effectiveness at London’s Cass Business School talked about the theory and practice of building effective relationships.

According to Prof. Bruce, successful relationship building has four components: establishing relationships, strengthening relationships, customer appreciation and relationship strategies. In American terms,  this  means relationship building, stewardship and ongoing donor communications.

You scan your environment to seek out the most influential people interested in your cause. Engage them well, pay close attention to their needs and consider them the most important people in your network. Prof. Bruce advises that you must be ready to talk about the negative things that are  happening at your organization and how you are trying to fix them. What are the pillars that need to be strengthened?

Often, most of us forget the common sense initiatives we need to take to build relationships. This includes reliability (deliver what you promised), responsiveness (give prompt service always), assurance (convey trust and confidence), empathy (a caring attitude), and  always make sure  that you provide the best tangible experience of your assets.

Sometimes, giving up top spots allotted to your  CEO or leadership to high value customers will help strengthen relationships. According to Prof. Bruce, this will help you build financial and social bonding with your high value customer.

His highly acclaimed book “Charity Marketing: Delivering Income, Campaigns and Services,” elaborates on the theory and practice of building effective nonprofit marketing strategies.