Jeanne Mwamikazi, a local business woman, selling vegetables at Kimironko market, has always wanted to contribute to the Ebola fight, since the epidemic broke up in West Africa, months ago.
She would willingly donate a third of her savings to save lives in West Africa but there wasn’t anyone collecting money for this cause.
However, Mwamikazi’s dream was realised on Tuesday when Rwanda Telecommunication companies launched a sms fundraising campaign- people across Rwanda can send a text, ‘STOPEBOLA’ to 7979, at a cost of Rwf 150($0.2).
With about 6 million Rwandans subscribed to MTN, Tigo and Airtel, an estimated Rwf 900million ($1.3M) is expected if each subscriber sends a sms.
“I was among the first people to send the text and will do so every morning,” says Mwamikazi.
The three months commitment, Ebola solidarity campaign will see funds channeled to deployment of African Health workers to countries Affected by Ebola.
“This campaign is an important milestone towards mobilizing resources to help West African countries devastated by Ebola epidemic,” says Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho.
The campaign resulted from a recent business roundtable on Ebola hosted by African Union (AU), Telecom operators committed to an Africa-wide campaign dubbed, ‘United against Ebola’, focusing on donations from various customers . It’s a partnership with African Union.
Rwanda’s Mtn,Airtel and Tigo are part of 41 countries across Africa participating in the campaign.
Across Africa, AU has partnered with several telecom companies including; Orange,Vodacom, Safaricom to raise funds from a potential 300 million subscribers that will be channeled in improving responsiveness to Ebola epidemic.
Rwanda telecoms have no set targets but are positive the sms approach will yield.
“The use of mobile phones in this campaign offers an opportunity for Rwandans to collectively support Ebola hit countries and actively drive action beyond boarders,” says Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, Mr.Teddy Bhullar.
A WHO report indicates that until October 29, 6070 people have succumbed to Ebola-the largest outbreak on the African continent and it currently prevails in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.
It is not the first time Rwanda is supporting Africa to combat Ebola. Rwanda sent experts to support health teams in Geneva, to create ways to slow down the virus alarming spread.
Like Mwamikazi, ordinary Rwandans get a 3-month opportunity to combat Ebola by a mere sms.
By: Lillian Gahima