The spread of COVID-19 into Africa and the Middle have been relatively small compared to outbreaks in countries like the United States or Italy. However, some experts fear that many African and Middle Eastern countries are only weeks away from severe outbreaks. One Young World Ambassadors in Africa and the Middle East are facing this crisis head-on.
Many of them have begun taking preventative measures to prepare communities on how to slow the spread of the disease. Others have been working with their local and national governments to prepare the health care system for an outbreak.
These Ambassadors are using their skills and networks to prevent the spread of coronavirus into their countries and help protect high-risk populations.
Farhad Wajdi, Afghanistan
Farhad Wajdi’s organisation reinvented itself by converting Solar-Powered Food Carts into Solar-Powered Disinfectant & Sanitation Carts with support from the National Procurement Authority. The project offers a free handwashing facility and disinfection service to impoverished people who are vulnerable to catching the virus. The team have also handed out brochures to educate the public on the importance of social distancing and distributed 72,000 masks to impoverished people. The grant will be used to employ 80 women who lost their jobs, to disinfect 40 locations in Kabul daily, and to provide handwashing facilities for 14,000 people per day.
Stephen Ogweno, Kenya
Stowelink has formed partnerships with twelve internationally recognised organisations. Together, they have collected the most accurate and relevant information about the COVID-19 pandemic from organisations like World Health and NCD Alliance. They have put this content into a simple informative format and shared it across social media platforms, publishing content in Kiswahili, English, and Amharic. The NCDs 365 project has reached 1.3 million people in 8 countries. Stephen was also nominated as a finalist in the health category of the Top 35 Under 35 Youth Awards by the government of Kenya for his work.
Brighton Kaoma, Zambia
Columbia University hosted a digital EcoAmbassadors workshop to train students on how to use the radio as a tool to support their environmental activism. Brighton, a Columbia graduate student and veteran radio producer, conducted the workshop and training the participants on how to effectively tell compelling personal stories. Students were asked to produce an audio commentary on their COVID-19 experience.
Routouang Mohamed Ndonga Christian, Chad
At the start of lockdown, Christian set up a COVID-19 crisis response team. Their actions so far have included:
- Organising a digital training session on manufacturing hydro-alcoholic gel and liquid soap
- Distributing 570 homecare kits to women who had just given birth
- Distributing 40 handwashing devices to civil society organisations in N'Djamena
- Launching the 235 Solutions Challenge in partnership with Tchad to identify solutions for crisis and post-crisis management
- Working on Hubjeune, which has a communication and mask distribution booth.
Ellen Chilemba, Malawi
The Tiwale Women's Center For Education and Entrepreneurship is on a mission to support the huge numbers of poverty-stricken women in Malawi, providing education, microloans, and skills training. Since the start of the pandemic, Tiwale has shifted gears to produce protective face masks, made in a safe and distanced space by Tiwale community graduates from their sewing workshops. The masks are cleaned and then either donated to essential workers and offices in Malawi, or sold to the public to help support their programmes.
Samuel Ogunsola, Nigeria
Samuel is the Founder and Executive Director of Food and Genes Initiative, a non-governmental organisation focussed on improving the lifestyle, health and wellbeing of Africans. They are currently running a number of different programmes aiming to tackle the COVID-19 outbreaks in Nigeria, including their flagship project to provide palliatives for households in underserved communities.
Eric Nehemiah, Kenya
The Mathare Foundation has been able to donate much-needed food supplies to 1,500 families in Nairobi. The team are also working to launch the Global Conversations Project to give young leaders a platform to discuss how they are responding to the pandemic in their own countries and communities. The Foundation has also commenced the Creativity Starts Here programme, which focuses on providing emotional and physiological support to the community through photography and music.
Ogunlola "Babs" Babatunde, Nigeria
Babs has set up an online club, Impact Club Africa, to bring together young people from over Africa in a series of webinars. Babs has covered a lot of topics during these digital learnings, including financial management, talents and skills management, and how young people can connect with technological opportunities.
Gregory Rockson, Ghana
Gregory has launched a price protection program for medicine called 'Mutti Keep My Price' and a virtual consultation service to help ensure patients have access to essential medications as well as continual contact with medical professionals. mPharma has also launched a dashboard that allows public health institutions to track medical consumption trends and to help the government monitor the number of COVID-19 in geographic areas.
mPharma has also created a solution to equip and re-purpose private labs into COVID-19 testing centers. Each lab will receive one PCR equipment and test kits. They will also receive funding to increase their biosafety level.
Noah Walakira, Uganda
Noah’s company, Namirembe sweater makers has sought funding from different companies and organizations to massively produce reusable face masks and distribute them to vulnerable people at risk of catching Covid-19.
They have produced and distributed 5000 masks with the support of Glasgow Caledonian University. And 8000 masks with the support of Anzisha Prize. They hope to partner with more organizations to support the vulnerable communities. The communities we have reached include 4 markets in Kampala and delivery motorcyclists.
Bryan Chesoli, Kenya
Bryan is shining a light on young people who are leading change in their communities amidst the pandemic, from building life-saving equipment through open-source innovation in Spain to implementing a port-of-entry surveillance app in Nepal. Do you have a story of a young person leading change during this time? How are you the leading change? Exercising empathy and demonstrating leadership?
Arnold Leon Mugagga, Uganda
Arnold has created a campaign called Uganda Smarter than Corona which brings people together to create solutions to problems caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The challenge will brought people together on the oursafrica platform to share information and discuss solutions, and 4 initiatives from the challenge are now part of 10 finalists for the Social Impact Award 2020. Arnold and his team also developed SeatPack, which are school bags that turn into bamboo chairs with writing surfaces to help alleviate cramped classrooms. They have currently sold 44 urban backpacks to fundraise for 44 school SeatPacks.
Wasim Abu Salem, Israel
Wasim and his team launched LoopX, a new coding platform for those isolating at home. It is completely free of charge for anyone who needs it, from teachers to students, or anyone just simply looking to improve their coding skills.
James Chege, Kenya
James created the Usalma platform to disseminate information campaigns about the risk of COVID-19 in Kenya. His goal is to raise awareness, which is currently low, and help link people to emergency response teams and help potentially infected individuals gain access to healthcare without putting others at risk.
James has also partnered with Queen of Peace Counselors to deliver free, anonymous mental health services via their digital platform.
Nelson Kwaje, Kenya
Nelson is a Program Director for #DefyHateNow, a community organization based in South Sudan, with branches in Cameroon, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia. Nelson helped to initiate the #211CHECK collective, which is a digital community of youth working in various fields who collaborate to fight misinformation and raise awareness on coronavirus prevention and protection, using the #COVID19SS hashtag.
Watch Nelson's feature on BBC Newsday:
Victor Odhiambo, Kenya
Victor is working on an initiative to help people living in informal settlements deal with COVID-19. He has raised money to set up hand-washing stations in the slums of Nairobi to help prevent the spread of disease. His initiative is also providing mental health support to families and individuals affected by COVID-19, promoting testing for those with symptoms and providing grants and loans to help revive community businesses. Their interventions so far have impacted 50,000 people in Kiberia slum.
John Jal Dak, Uganda
John is working on combatting the spread of COVID-19 in the refugee community in Uganda. He is working on The Refugee Emergency Response on COVID-19 project, which aims to give the refugee community knowledge, attitudes, and practices to prevent them from contracting the disease. They have translated all of their communications into multiple languages and provided the community with numerous public sanitation facilities such as hand washing centres.
Obinna Victor Eze, Nigeria
Obinna Victor Eze and his organisation 360degreeHEALTH NETwork are working to ensure Nigerian, frontline healthcare providers are safe and supported despite the recently announced 40% cuts to healthcare spending. The initiative provides healthcare workers with essential resources to tackle the pandemic, primarily through the production and provision of Personal Protective Equipment. The initiative also aims to educate over 500,000 healthcare providers on emergency preparedness. The organisation will use the grant to fund the production and distribution of 3,000 protective face shields, 20,000 hand gloves, and 10,000 woven facemasks.
Lebogang Bogopane, South Africa
Lebogang Bogopane, as Founder of the Mothotlung Network Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, established the Sello Sa Mosadi project to protect victims of domestic violence and child abuse during lockdown. It provides trauma counselling, accommodation, food and transport to victims of abuse. It also operates a reporting service, and remote counselling services over the phone or online. The organisation will use the funding to maintain this essential service for an increasing number of victims, while adhering to the WHO’s guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus.
Mbiydzenyuy Ferdy, Cameroon
In response to the growing COVID-19 crisis in Cameroon, Ferdy launched the Community Mutual Aid Crisis Response to connect those in need of assistance with willing volunteers.
Isabelle Kamariza, Rwanda
The main object of Solid' Africa is to provide aid to the most vulnerable patients of Rwandan public hospitals. At the start of the pandemic, the team leapt into action and, in just 13 days, doubled the number of patients they support. Solid' Africa now ensure that 2,400 meals per day are being delivered to four hospitals, benefitting 800 patients who would otherwise go hungry in these challenging times.
Emma Ingaiza, Kenya
Emma is working in a large Nairobi slum as a health manager, managing a team of 60 people to provide over 400 patients a day with essential healthcare services. She is also helping to coordinate other NGOs working in Nairobi with the informally settled population.
Isaac Olufadewa, Nigeria
Isaac and his team have produced #STOP-COVID-19 infographics in over 100 languages, making them the world's most translated COVID-19 healthcare infographics. They are currently collaborating with the pandemic communications team at the Nigeria Center for Disease Control on a research project, and have recently created COVID-19 mental health infographics that have also been translated into multiple languages.
Isaac and his team are also working on the Slum and Rural Health Initiative, for which Isaac is a finalist for the UK-based Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene grant programme. He plans to use the funds for a COVID-19 research project that will involve internally displaced persons camps in Northern Nigeria. The initiative's research study was also one of the studies accepted as a poster presentation at the world's first and largest virtual conference on COVID-19 organised by the International AIDS Society.
Hauwa Ojeifo, Nigeria
She Writes Woman is a women-led movement tackling the stigma against mental health in Nigeria. The 297% rise in reported GBV cases during lockdown in the nation’s most populous cities brought increased urgency on their work. As a result, She Writes Woman is partnering with Women At Risk International to provide a 24/7 toll-free, crisis counselling helpline, serving as a first point of contact to ensure that survivors of GBV, as well as those living with mental health conditions, have access to confidential psychosocial support and counselling during the pandemic. The partnership will use the grant to launch a virtual support group, open casefiles with mental health practitioners, and organise virtual counselling for survivors during the Covid-10 pandemic.
Racheal Kalambula, Malawi
The #AmWithHer initiative, run by “Zenith for Young Women Achievers”, has established a one-stop-centre that receives and documents complaints of gender-based violence, refers victims for care and support, and reports violence with the social department, police station and judicial court. It also collaborates with five Girls and Women Protection Committees in Blantyre’s townships, to orientate women in laws to ensure child protection and to protect victims of gender-based violence. The organisation will use the funding to operate the hotline, train volunteers to use the referral system, process the complaints and connect victims with psycho-social support.
Funmilola Awosanya, Nigeria
Funmilola has partnered with a number of local foundations and organisations to provide hand gloves, sanitisers and food to people living in Ajegunle Apapa in Lagos State. Through this project, more than 300 people have been provided with accurate information about the virus and access to nourishing food form home.
Olasupo Abideen, Nigeria
Know COVID-19 has become the go-to organisation to find quality information about COVID-19 in Africa. Olasupo and his team are ensuring the provision of relevant and reliable facts, debunking fake news, and providing healthcare tips to help local communities stay safe, informed and protected. Their radio programme has targeted over 100 million Nigerians and they have just launched their perception report.
Prince Agbata, Ghana
Prince is working to scale and increase Coliba's ability to recover and recycle plastic waste. Their current programme encourages citizens from low-income communities and slums to stay home and sort their waste, exchanging their recyclables for rice, cooking oil and other food items. They are also working to get waste pickers provisions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to connect them to pick-up requests from households.
Achaleke Christian Leke, Cameroon
Local Youth Corner Cameroon is a civil society organisation fighting against violent extremism and developing youth leadership. To tackle the spread of the pandemic and due to the shortage of affordable hand sanitiser, Achaleke and his team have turned their office into a rapid response lab, producing bottles of home-made hand sanitiser as part of their 'One Person One Hand Sanitizer' initiative. Achaleke has used the grant to increase production of these vital resources, and will distribute products and educate staff and inmates in overpopulated prisons in Cameroon.
Dickel Dia, Mauritania
As part of a collaborative of OYW Ambassadors and with support from her organisation AFPHY, Dickel Dia has established the Fight Co-Vi Initiative. Based on a survey the team conducted, they identified increased rates of domestic violence to women and girls in Mauritania and have since supported 140 victims with mentorship. The project will use the grant to coach 10 victims in soap production, with the aim of producing and distributing over 5,000 bars of soap to vulnerable communities. They will also train a further 35 victims of violence to run their own water distribution cooperatives, reaching a further 5,000 people with handwashing facilities in 5 target localities.
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