A humanitarian idea to raise money and awareness for Ebola virus victims has been killed by Folklorama rules.
Last week, leaders in the Sierra Leone community said they were going to raise money for Red Cross efforts to battle the Ebola virus by setting up a booth at the African pavilion at Folklorama.
That raised the hackles of the Folk Arts Council that runs Folklorama, said Abu Bakarr Kamara, vice-president of the Sierra Leone National Association of Manitoba.
Fundraising at Folklorama is taboo, Kamara said he learned -- even if it's to prevent the spread of deadly Ebola virus.
"To provide all of our visitors with a consistent experience we have a 'no solicitation policy,' " said an unnamed Folk Arts Council spokeswoman.
"Organizers can provide visitors with information about causes and where to make donations," she said. "They would be welcome to showcase information but not to accept donations on-site."
They don't want Folklorama visitors who sample cuisine and culture to feel "obligated" to donate to any causes, she said.
"I was so upset," Kamara said of the policy. "I know Folklorama is important to showcase our culture but these are issues that are pressing."
"Nobody was going to be forcing anybody to donate."
The spokesman for the organization that runs the pavilion, the African Communities of Manitoba Inc. (ACOMI), said the Sierra Leone community was told it couldn't collect money for the Red Cross at Folklorama. When ACOMI saw Friday's Free Press story about the group's plans to fundraise at the pavilion, Frank Indome said the organization refused to let them even put up posters for the Red Cross.
"We ruled out the whole idea," said Indome.
Every year the African pavilion has groups that want to raise money and awareness by piggybacking onto the pavilion and every year they tell them no, he said.
"It's not the first time," said Indome, who is from Ghana in West Africa. But he said he is sensitive to the Ebola outbreak and the impact it's having there.
To donate, call 1-800-418-1111 or send a cheque to the Red Cross at 1111 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3G- 0S8. Indicate the donation is for the West Africa Ebola Outbreak Fund.
For information, contact the Sierra Leone Nationals Association of Manitoba Resource Centre at 251 Henderson Hwy, Winnipeg or call (204) 951-9571.