Members of Refugee All Stars, a band from Sierra Leone, have been living in the US due to the Ebola epidemic. They had previously been refugees in the Kalia refugee camp due to the political unrest of the 1990s. The band had formed when Ruben Koroma, the lead singer, joined forces with guitarist Francis Langba, and bassist Idrissa Bangura to entertain fellow refugees. Producing music was a way for them to express their experiences of the country’s civil war, point out sensitive issues in a positive way, and share their hope for peace, American filmmakers Zach Niles and White met the band members in Sembakounya band and made a movie based on observations they made following the band for three years from camp to camp. Since then they have become famous across the US recording albums, making soundtracks for movies, and appearing on talk shows like the Oprah Winfrey show.
It’s ironic that they are refugees again, but this time from ebola! The bandleader and lead singer Ruben Koroma said, "We want to keep the band alive and have decided to be here until either a vaccine, or anything, is found that can eradicate Ebola and we can go back.” Furthermore, they are organizing a fundraising campaign for Ebola, educating people about it, and sending money to their communitites. They are trying to galvanize a movement to get people from West Africa to unite in action and be more positive about the current events. Koroma indicates, "As long as we are together and play music together, it gives us warmth, more confidence and hope that we will come out of this situation. We came out of the war, and so we know that we will prevail over Ebola.”
You can read more about their story and hear their songs on their website!