Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Chifundo Chibaka
Recently CorpsAfrica partnered with Mastercard Foundation and as a Volunteer, I was presented with an opportunity to design and work on a COVID-19 project with the people on my site. The generous grant that was made available was meant to support vulnerable groups of individuals to protect themselves from the pandemic.
I decided to work with the youth in sharing COVID-19-related information in 15 villages within my site. These meetings focused on sharing information and tips on how they can protect themselves, identify signs and symptoms, effective hand washing practices, make hand sanitizers and face masks using socks, and proper usage and disposal of masks among others. Together with the youth club, we managed to share this information and 1,300 bars of hand washing soap to over 860 people in their respective villages.
The community meetings were an eye opener for me since I was able to get feedback on the fears the people had and their knowledge about the pandemic. It was encouraging to see others coming to these meetings with face masks and observing social distance without asking them to. It was also an opportunity to clear out some misconceptions that the people had, the major one being use of kachasu (locally brewed spirits) to cure the disease.
In addition to that, five foot-operated hand washing stations were purchased and installed at the local primary and secondary school as well as the local health centre. These hand washing stations will serve an estimated population of over 6,000 people (students, teachers, health and patients) who use their facilities.
After noticing the need for teachers to protect themselves as well as the students, a training was also done with the help of a local nurse to train them in making hand sanitizer using methylated spirit and glycerin and startup materials were donated to both schools. This is to complement governments effort since teachers, mothers groups and school committee members were trained in sewing face masks.
The support helped the community better prepare against this microscopic enemy that has disrupted our way of living and I doubt if we will go back to it.