In the Pacific Island Nations, COVID-19 has not yet taken a stronghold, but the impacts of the virus are still being felt. Many of the island economies have already been weakened in recent months due to natural disasters and a prolific measles outbreak, and a large proportion of the population relies on tourism for their livelihood. Australia and New Zealand have been working hard to contain the virus, but are now facing the new challenge of attempting to ease restrictions whilst still suppressing new cases. Learn about the One Young World Ambassadors across the Pacific who have been working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.
Rinesh Sharma, Fiji
The pandemic, combined with three cyclones, has severely affected the work of Smart Farms Fiji and IG Distributors. SmartFarms solution is to distribute home-based hydroponics kits, including informational materials, so people can provide independently for their families. This is vital for the population in a stagnant economy resulting from closed borders over pandemic concerns, and recent, devastating natural disasters. The team have already deployed 15 kits and conducted educational classes for the households, with a further 35 set to be deployed in June.
Natalino Guterres, Timor Leste
LGBTIQ+ youth in Timor Leste are particularly vulnerable during the current health crisis. Many from this group no longer live with their families and instead live communally, making safe social distancing near impossible. Others have lost their jobs and are now unable to afford the mandatory face masks they need to be able to shop and work. Natalino plans to leverage this community by empowering them to produce rainbow face-masks, giving them to means to support themselves financially whilst also providing them with the personal protective equipment that they so desperately need.
Arash Bordbar, Australia
Arash spearheaded the release of a statement calling on local, national and international COVID-19 response actors to ensure that refugees and migrants are substantively considered in their response. This includes taking necessary steps to prepare refugee camps and ensuring real access to national medical infrastructure. The APRRN have now turned their attention to educational content, building a databank of articles, editorials and advocacy statements.
Regina Lepping, Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands is among the few countries that have not yet had an outbreak of COVID-19. As a youth advocate, Regina is working tirelessly to make sure that it remains that way. Earlier this year, Regina created Agents of Change Solomon Islands (AOCSI) in response to the Australia bush fires, but the team have since shifted gears to spread accurate information about the virus through creative campaigns.
Johannah Maher, Australia
Johannah has co-released a rock song called 'Break The Transmission - Do It For Love' with the aim to inspire people to fight COVID-19 by staying at home and protecting communities. All song purchase proceeds during the crisis will be donated to Foodbank Australia.
Nolan Salmon Parairua, Solomon Islands
Nolan is working with the Ministry of Finance and Treasuring to ensure that the financial institutions in the Solomon Islands remain operational. This is vital to ensure that individuals and business are able to fully prepare for the state of emergency and lockdown.
SIYISFLA is also working with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health to collaborate on community-wide awareness campaigns on COVID-19.
Grace Forrest, Australia
Millions of vulnerable workers do not have access to COVID-19 testing, health care, sick leave or the physical or financial ability to isolate. Many have lost jobs and are stranded overseas, unable to support themselves or return home due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, creating the perfect storm for exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery to flourish.
Walk Free is calling on business and government leaders to act urgently and collaboratively to address risks to vulnerable workers and protect lives. Their publication - 'Protecting People in a Pandemic' - examines key risks that COVID-19 presents for migrant and other vulnerable workers and provides practical guidance and current examples of measures that business and government can take to mitigate those risks. Walk Free have also just released a report on slavery in the Commonwealth.