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This is such a great idea, Bettina. Talking to a local or someone who is steeped in the culture would be ideal. Does IDEO has any contacts? We could also leverage social media to look for local volunteers or members of West African diaspora who might know. Popular West African sports or cultural icons might also be ideal candidates for the 'teacher'.

That's a great point. I think the perception of reliability and trust would come when people start deriving value from the proposed communication channel. So I guess the first step is to deliver information that, apart from being grounded in facts, is also useful and valuable to people. Active efforts in marketing, as you suggested, would also be of great help.

I know a little bit about Ushahidi. It's crowdsourcing nature can help get the right information in the hands of people who need it, in a timely manner. In this particular case, I can imagine such a tool to be useful for tracking medical facilities and supplies. It can potentially answer questions like -
1. Which hospitals are running over capacity or under staffed or under supplied?
2. Where have emergency health camps popped up around an area?
3. Where can you go to get access to information or healthcare you need?