The Corona virus pandemic to some people can be one of the most devastating events of the year. While to others the occurrence of the virus has become a life changing experience, just like the famous saying that goes one man’s loss is another man’s gain.
In South Sudan, a groups of Young people decided to use their energy to support the country in the fight against the novel virus-Covid-19.
Icon Deng William, group leader of South Sudan Youth Fight Against Covid-19 said the main idea of creating the group was to bring young people together to help in stopping the spread of the pandemic.
“The intention of the group is to go out and create awareness programs, teach people, sensitize the community on the effects and how to protect themselves from Coronavirus,” He narrated.
Deng said the group faced a lot of challenges at first from the community, some people had negative perception and others were ignorant when told about Covid-19.
However, he explained that the team did not back down and continued spreading messages of safety measures to the entire neighborhoods in Juba.
“We faced a lot of challenges like especially stereotypes, and ignorance, while giving out the soap some people say that the soap is even having Coronavirus. The team managed to fight all those negative attitudes, and many people within the society got the knowledge on the virus and the importance of protecting themselves,” He explained to us.
The South Sudan Youth Fight against Covid-19 initiative started with online training of the volunteers on containment of the virus and how to circulate awareness messages to the society.
Deng said many organizations were creating awareness in some specific locations around the city, neglecting areas in the outskirts of Juba like Lemon Gaba, Gurei, Kapuri, Gabbo, Sherikat and many more.
“The main thing we did was to identify places which lacked access to information on coronavirus, and public health campaigns like Kapuri and Lemon Gabba, we found out that these people lacked complete access to information on Covid-19,” the team leader said.
The Youth leader said the group has reached over fifteen thousand people around Juba through creation of awareness and provision of items like sanitizers, face masks and gloves.
The group also focused on distribution of Personal Protective Equipment to primary health centers within Juba to offer protection to health workers helping in the fight against the virus.
Since COVID-19 was confirmed in the country in April 2020, surveillance, contact tracing, sample collection and case management have been severely affected by the shortage of PPEs. Many health workers across the country are taking risks daily to stop the spread of the pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Health, 138 health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19 including one death. There are currently 7,560 health care workers operating in 1,315 health facilities in South Sudan.
Deng is calling on the government, non-governmental organization to support behavioral change activities being carried by the youths in the country for better development.
He also urged the youths to have the spirit of patriotism among themselves to support one another not only on Covid-19 but also other cases like the floods happening in most parts of the country.
Moni Thabita, A Health Worker and A Member of the SSYFAC said women in the country face a lot of challenges since most of them do not work. They lack means to access these items.
Moni narrated that she joined the group to support more women and girls to get access to safety and hygienic equipment to fight Covid-19.
She encouraged other women and girls to join beneficial groups to gain more knowledge on how to help the community.
“The fact that I am a woman, other girls seeing me coming over to give them masks and sanitizers may give them the courage to join other volunteer groups to support the society. It also encourages them to know that being a lady is not about sitting home giving birth and all that,” Moni said.
The health worker said she feels lucky that throughout her movement the society has never rejected or said anything bad to her.
She explained that some girls in the group were subjected to some bad words just because of being in the community while trying to pass a precautionary message on Coronavirus Pandemic.
Moni called on the youth to come out for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence activities, from 25 November to 10 December and volunteer in any role to give back to the community.
According to Moni the South Sudan Youth Fight Against Covid-19 plans to initiate the fight beyond Coronavirus to support the community in other situations like the current flooding in many parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Yopi Betty, a Beneficiary from the donation carried out by the youth, appreciated the group for the extra work they are doing in helping the community.
The ministry of health said South Sudan’s cumulative COVID-19 cases has exceeded the 3,000 mark.
According to the latest updates from the COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report, South Sudan has now registered a total of 3,773 cases as of January 21st 2021.
The country has also confirmed deaths toll of 64 and 3,542 recoveries.
This story was produced with support from Open Society Initiative for East Africa or OSIEA as part of the series of Creative stories of innovation and solidarity during COVID-19 pandemic.