10 July 2015 – New York The United Nations Millennium Campaign screened a Virtual Reality film today at the United Nations. Waves of Grace follows a young woman’s struggle for life amid the Ebola epidemic. Its premier is planned in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery.
The movie is the result of collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, VRSE.works and Vice Media, and was created to call attention to the obstacles faced by Ebola survivors. The movie transports viewers to West Point, Liberia and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease. The VR experience captures the Liberian tragedy from illness to recovery, mourning to perseverance. It is part of a larger initiative of the United Nations Millennium Campaign to fight donor fatigue on the world’s most pressing challenges.
“Development achievements can be quickly reversed due to crises such as the Ebola epidemic” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “If the world does not focus on helping the most vulnerable and building resiliency in recovering communities, development goals and targets will not be met. Thus it is hoped that this film may aid the United Nations’ efforts to draw attention to the lasting impact of the Ebola crisis, as well as the need for continued support for those affected by the disease.”
Since the outbreak began, roughly 27,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (figures from July 2015). The fatality rate for those affected is just under 50%. The health epidemic has had the strongest impact on women and children, with 50.8% of deaths female, and an estimated 30,000 orphaned by the disease.
Although Liberia was declared Ebola free in May 2015 new cases continue from unknown sources as the virus is still active in the region.
“The Ebola crisis has captivated the world in its devastating effects over the last year and a half. However, the individual stories behind the numbers are often not told. Decontee’s story captures the strife and spirit of the communities across West Africa in the wake of the Ebola epidemic. It is hoped that this second VR experience will promote greater understanding of the socio-economic impact of the disease and empathy for those who continue to overcome it.” said Gabo Arora, co-creator of the film and Senior Advisor for the UN Millennium Campaign.
Waves of Grace follows the successful launch of the virtual reality experience Clouds Over Sidra about the Syrian refugee crisis. That movie was screened at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait, and helped raise $3.8 billion in support of the humanitarian response. The UN hopes to build on the success of that movie and continue to close the gap between decision-makers and the issues they govern on.
Waves of Grace can be viewed either on iOS or Android Mobile Platforms with or without google cardboard (https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/) by downloading the VRSE app (http://vrse.com/); or on Samsung phones with the Samsung Gear VR (http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/gearvr/).
Kristin Gutekunst - UN Millennium Campaign – firstname.lastname@example.org +1.914.330.3774