Grieving the Dead: Barkedu & Foya Mourning Ceremonies
In response to pleas from various communities that have been traumatized since the onset of the Ebola epidemic, we have begun initiating mourning ceremonies in two strategic locations, Barkedu and Foya. Mourning Feasts are key traditional events shared across religious, tribal and ethnic lines in Liberia that are pivotal in grieving the dead and sending them to properly rest. In Liberian culture, healing is extended to the nonhuman realm and ceremonies such as these are welcomed and longed for--seen as deeply transformative and thus, imperative tasks in order to maintain healthy, resilient and interconnected communities. Doing so helps to re-bridge traumatized relationships and bring communities together to share their experiences, mourn the dead and transform grief and trauma into collaborative action. Mourning Feasts also offer a tremendous opportunity for communities to come together and learn about long-term preventative health measures.
To begin this process everyday gandhis’ Mobile Peace Teams and Future Guardians of Peace held feasts in two communities most affected by Ebola in early April. Both Barkedu and Foya welcomed eg with open arms. Field Coordinator, Lasana Kamara reports:
The everyday gandhis team left Voinjama at about 3:15 pm on March 31, 2015 and arrived early evening in Foya. Upon our arrival, Mr. Flomo, head of the Mobile Peace Teams based in Foya, received us. He took us to the chiefs and elders of the Kpadonin Community in Foya, which was one of the most affected communities during the Ebola crisis. They were happy to see everyday gandhis back in their community for the third time, before and during the Ebola crisis. eg’s Culture Troupe were in action during the night and demonstrated the danger of Ebola and its prevention through dramas, song and dance that were all very exciting.
On April 1, 2015 we were taken to the community hut for the ceremony where we extended our condolences on behalf of the eg family to those that lost family members during the Ebola Crisis. We then distributed the ceremony materials, along with preventative supplies to the elders and chiefs in Kpadonin’s Community. It was so wonderful to see that the elders and chiefs were interested in the ceremony and needed these materials.
On April 3, 2015, we continued our tour to Barkedu Town, Quardu Gboni District. Upon arrival, I was taken to Alhaji Musa Teah, Chief Imam, for a short briefing, during which I explained to the Imam that Barkedu was selected because it was an area most heavily affected during the Ebola crisis. He was so happy for the news; he called on community members to assemble at the central mosque for the briefing. In less than 30 minutes, we saw a group of Muslims, both men and women, assemble at the Central Mosque waiting to hear from us. Similar messages of condolence were delivered to the Barkedu Community including the presentation of the materials for the ceremony.
The Imam, Alhaji Musa Teah accepted the materials with high respect on behalf of the entire Muslim community of Barkedu, extending thanks and appreciation to the president and founder of everyday gandhis, Ma Cyndie, for her meaningful contribution. He said the mourning ceremony was timely and in the best interest of the Barkedu Community in moving forward after the devastating epidemic.
-Lasana Kamara, Field Coordinator, everyday gandhis Liberia