Selam Asefa, 27, volunteers to support youth-initiated and targeted activities in North Shoe in the Amhara regional state in Ethiopia. Currently, he is Chair of the Amref Ethiopia Youth Advisory Group in North Shoe, and in this role he is supporting the COVID-19 response activities funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.
With increased COVID-19 prevalence and rising cases in Ethiopia, alerting communities to the dangers of the pandemic is critical. Selam is one of the many youth volunteers who is very engaged in raising awareness in communities about COVID-19 prevention and control.
Working closely with relevant sectors and Amref Health Africa staff, Selam designs COVID-19 prevention campaigns and spreads awareness on key measures that community members can take to slow the spread of COVID-19. He visits marketplaces, religious institutions, and schools to educate people about hand hygiene, proper mask use, and physical distancing as key prevention methods.
Despite the challenges he faces, Selam says that he is happy that he is contributing towards efforts to prevent and control COVID-19 transmission.
“I have learned a lot from this experience of working as a volunteer to raise awareness. There are people who do not even believe COVID-19 exists. So they resist accepting the reality that the virus is spreading widely and killing many. I use each opportunity to get the key messages across and to educate everyone I come in contact with. I am happy to see some people wearing masks in public places and institutions providing handwashing points by their entrance. This motivates me and my youth team to work more towards slowing the spread of the virus,” Selam says.
With the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, Amref Health Africa is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia by training and deploying youth volunteers to raise awareness within communities, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers and health facilities, improving sanitation (such as building handwashing points), and training health workers on COVID-19 prevention and treatment.