Young people are leading the response.
Nationwide across Sierra Leone, young people are volunteering to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic across all districts of Sierra Leone – going door-to-door to raise awareness, making hand washing stations and supporting vulnerable young girls – with Restless Development supporting them.
See their impact in numbers:
Programme: Unite for save lives nar Salone.
On this programme, funded by UK Aid, young volunteers called ‘Community Mobilisers’ are working with communities to understand the barriers they face when accessing healthcare services, addressing them and raising awareness to increase the uptake of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services. As Sierra Leone started to see COVID-19 cases, the Community Mobilisers were supported to switch their focus to addressing the virus. They’re doing this by going door-to-door and using mobile PA systems and megaphones to spread the message – and always maintaining social distancing. They’re holding hand washing demonstrations, community radio discussions in local languages, and supporting local leaders and local authorities to take part in discussions and action to prevent the virus.
We hope to combat this pandemic through community mobilisation just like we did with Ebola.Fatmata, 23, Saving Lives volunteer, Sierra Leone.
Programme: Leave No Girl Behind.
Funded by UK Aid, this programme has supported 360 young people as mentors and facilitators to establish and run safe spaces for the most vulnerable out-of-school adolescent girls in 120 communities. These young people are providing girls with literacy, numeracy and skills relevant for life and work, with around 25 girls in each community taking part. Young people are also working with the wider community to start conversations and change around girls rights, creating a more friendly environment for girls and families to make positive choices for girls. With the government restrictions, their learning sessions were paused, but the volunteers have continued to support the girls with ongoing check-ins and psychosocial support, as well as information about COVID-19 – in a recent survey of the girls about their experiences during COVID-19, 76% of them named the volunteers as a reliable source of COVID-19 information that they had used. The young volunteers have also been raising awareness of the virus with the wider communities, as well as gender-based violence/domestic abuse. With government COVID-19 restrictions gradually lifting, learning sessions are set to start up again at the end of August. To make sure the sessions are as safe as possible for the girls and volunteers, all sessions will be run with smaller groups of 8-10 girls whilst social distancing and ongoing information around COVID-19.
Programme: Strengthening Accountability, Building Inclusion (SABI).
Funded by UK AID, we support 122 Youth Accountability Volunteers, who work with 1,220 young volunteers called Community Champions, to collect data nationwide about service providers in education, health and social services. The volunteers then present back their community-specific findings, and hold sessions with communities to understand their rights in relation to these areas. These young people then support communities to take the lead on demanding better and more transparent delivery from service providers. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been supporting the volunteers to work with communities to identify the impact of COVID-19 in their communities, and take action to prevent the spread of the virus.
Programme: Strengthening Public Financial Management, Anti-Corruption and Accountability Institutions.
Funded by UK Aid, and as part of the programme, alongside a group of organisations with technical expertise in these areas, Restless Development is facilitating the inclusion of young people in public financial management and accountability in Sierra Leone. The programme is improving the country’s ability to raise, allocate and account for the use of public funds so that they can be invested in services such as education, health and economic growth. Young peoples’ role in this is to engage the general public of Sierra Leone in these issues – conducting crucial research into tax and corruption nationwide, feeding back findings, and facilitating conversations about issues, policies and how people can hold their leaders accountable. To support the government of Sierra Leone during the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been supporting the young volunteers to track the impact of the virus on revenue generation, in coordination with the NRA and Ministry of Finance.
Programme: Mama by Chance, Not by Choice.
We are supporting 18 young women to volunteer in their own communities to raise awareness of the benefits of modern methods of contraception among adolescent girls. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were working with in-school girls (running sessions on family planning and sexual health), as well as out-of-school girls including out-of-school adolescent mothers. They were also working with local leaders, healthcare facilities, parents, and their wider communities to create a positive environment for adolescent girls to make informed choices about family planning. Since the outbreak and restrictions that came with it, the young women have widened their focus to also raise awareness of COVID-19, whilst continuing to ensure that girls are informed about family planning and able to access it during the outbreak. They are continuing their work with communities by bringing together smaller groups of out-of-school girls, young mothers, parents, healthcare facility staff, community health workers, traditional birth attendants, and local leaders to discuss both COVID-19 prevention and family planning.
Programme: Working with the Government of Sierra Leone.
Restless Development is ensuring that young people are able to play a key role in the Government of Sierra Leone, as well as the UK Aid, response to COVID-19. Young people are using Ministry of Health and Sanitation approved informational materials, and Restless Development staff are working with the Ministry of Health to ensure that social mobilisation efforts are appropriate and coordinated.