This International Youth Day we want to recognise young people’s resilience in the face of this pandemic, and how so many have taken action to help their communities respond and recover. This is Nyasha’s story.
Keeping her community safe from COVID-19.
Nyasha, 24, is from Ushewokunze suburb, in the southern area of Harare, Zimbabwe.
Her community has no health facility, no proper water system or sewer system and most people’s livelihoods, like her own, are based on day to day vending – the buying and selling of goods such as vegetables or clothes.
“Because of the lockdown, I had no source of income as I couldn’t do my hustle” says Nyasha.
It’s a similar story for many across Zimbabwe.
Resilience requires organising
With the support of Restless Development, a team of 20 young people across Zimbabwe, including Nyasha, have taken it upon themselves to volunteer within their communities to spread awareness to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The training I received from Restless Development provided me with the skills and knowledge needed to help my community respond to COVID-19. I learned that the key thing is to practice social distancing and hygiene. I also learnt a lot of powerful misconceptions that were flying around and I now demystify these wrong messages among my peers.”
“I have been raising awareness on COVID-19 prevention measures as well as how to respond to someone who is suspected to have been infected or who is showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“I have also been gathering information on how young people are coping during the pandemic and raising awareness on other communicable diseases such as cholera and typhoid as my community is at high risk.
“We are doing our best to ensure that people have the information they need to keep safe.
Nyasha and the other volunteers on this project are all working in their own communities, reaching out to people at their homes and other hotspots such as marketplaces and water points to reach as many people as possible.
“Volunteering in my own community has been very helpful as many young people listen to me and follow my example” says Nyasha.
They have already surpassed their initial target, reaching over 300 households with life-saving messages.
The volunteers use their mobile phones and notepads to record their findings when in the field and report back to their supporting supervisors.
“We then share the information we gather with the national taskforce on COVID-19 as well as local and district leaders to influence how they support us to respond to COVID-19 and other issues facing young people.
Acting as ‘Community Navigators’, Nyasha’s work will build a bridge between the live situation in communities and influence the government’s response.
Resilience requires resourcing
Nyasha and the other volunteers have been receiving ongoing guidance support from the City Health Department as well as staff from Restless Development and National AIDS Council.
“They give us updated information on the virus as new information emerges and we have been given information on how to protect ourselves as well as full protective equipment including face masks, sanitizers and clearance letters as essential workers, to be able to move around under lock-down.”
“I am very proud to say I have been a member of a team of fearless young people who took it upon themselves to volunteer within their communities to spread awareness about the pandemic.