PeaceDay2020 - Youth Assembly
The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great challenge, including the worst global health crisis in its history. For the first time people all over the world are having the same concerns. Will the global crisis bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust? And how do we rebuild the world beyond the pandemic?
Young leaders from 100 cities across the planet are now stepping up to the challenge. During the Peace weekend, September 19-20, they will come together online, and onsite to take counsel on how we can turn the crisis of the pandemic into an opportunity for global renewal.
The epicenter of the project is Youth Island, a former sea fortress outside Copenhagen, which has been taken over by the Danish Scouts, and transformed into a unique gathering place for young people from all over the world.
On UN’s International Day of Peace September 21, a delegation from the Global Youth Assembly will sail from Youth Island to the UN-City in Copenhagen to hand over the conclusions from the Assembly to the world leaders. 8 delegates from the Youth Assembly will join Humanity Rising’s Day 99 session, to share the conclusions from the Youth Assembly and talk about the next steps.
Ghana: Creating awareness and joy with storybooks
In this era of COVID-19, the whole world has become apprehensive on putting measures in place to curb the rate of infections and deaths. Upon this, restrictions have been put on several activities, especially social gathering. This has to lead to the closure of schools over months to avoid the spread of the pandemic among students.
Here in Ghana, the situation is not different. The first case of COVID-19 was recorded on the 12th of March 2020. Since then, people's daily routine has changed completely and economic activities dwindled as the rest of the world, education on Covid-19 preventive methods skyrocketed. But most of these activities with respect to education and aids were centred in the "big towns".
Has anybody asked the state of knowledge of the people leaving in the remote areas of the country? Well, MasterPeace Ghana, with its operations under Dream Shapers Foundation, an NGO which is focused on improving quality education, healthcare, well-being and women economic empowerment, saw the need to reach out to persons in these areas, therefore, embarked on feasibility studies.
How did it start?
The Project Department conducted a feasibility study on McCarthy Kope and Pupuni. McCarthy Kope is in the Shai-Osuduku District in the Greater Accra Region with about 500 inhabitants dispersed over large acres land area, about 130km away from the City where the office of MP Ghana is located. Upon the visibility studies conducted, it was ascertained that they have poor education, health and water systems together with little to no knowledge in Covid-19 making them adamant in adhering to the safety protocols. No different story can be told about Pupuni, a village in Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region, about 100km from Accra. In addition, children in these communities have shunned studies while they stay home.
What did we do?
On the 29th of August, 2020, the team of about 30 members in possession of 1000 nose masks and hand sanitizers together with storybooks, set off from Accra at 7 am to the aforementioned communities with the first stop being McCarthy Kope. The journey took about 3 hours where the rough and dusty road from the main junction to the actual community took most of the time. Upon the team's arrival, none of the inhabitants spotted was with a nose mask or sanitizer. Although the team was welcomed by house flies due to the rearing of cattle, nothing stopped them. As custom demands, homage was paid to the chief of the community, and about 10 hand sanitizers and nose masks branded with DSF and MP Ghana Logos were donated to his household. The medical department head took some time to educate them on how to use these PPE.
The team further spread themselves into separate groups and went from house to house to donate these items together with storybooks to the children where some reading was done with them to rekindle the need to learn how to read and write. Included to the storybooks were colouring books for children in nursery to help then practice and love painting. The same situation can be told of Pupuni but the residents have a compact settlement, unlike McCarthy Kope, making them more prone to contracting the virus. Moreover, all the community leaders of about 20 were present to welcome the team.
How did it feel?
The euphoria of the residents and children cannot be overemphasised as the Chiefs expressed so much joy for youths to come together to undertake this impressive project. The children mobbed the team with so much joy as they received their storybooks. Although the decision was to go from house to house, most of the children rather drew closer to the team. The opportunity was used to raise awareness by the use of photo cut-outs that have 7 different messages ranging from health to education (literacy).
It was all joy and new knowledge acquisition by MasterPeace Ghana members. This also paved the way to learn more about other problems which exist in the communities such as lack of potable water which was the major problem needing an urgent solution. Upon impacting about 1000 persons in the day, the team set off at 5:30 pm to Accra feeling very fulfilled. About 5 media agencies were present to carry the news across together with the grievances of the chiefs of these communities.
Thanks to the sponsors (Frankies, MoringaKing, Cherash Cash, Kasy's Avenue, Alma Medical Laboratory, Abikrong Ventures, Great People of Greatness) and Media Partners.
Guinea: Fighting COVID-19 together - let common sense prevail!
This story about conscious and decidedly actions, taken by the team of the MasterPeace club in the Republic of Guinea, against the spreading of the recent COVID-19 pandemics reminds us how important it is to stay together even when we must stay 1,5 m apart.
For the first time in a hundred years, the world is focused on a common goal: beating coronavirus. The triple hit to health, education and communities’ sustainability has forced us to reconsider almost every aspect of how we live. While some countries made it possible to react relatively fast and mobilize resources and people, other ones, suffering from internal contradictions, appeared to be more vulnerable in face of the pandemics. The Republic of Guinea was among the hardest hit on the African continent, and the number of cases reported daily remains consistently high. Though Guinea has experience in fighting the Ebola epidemic in 2014, the management of COVID-19, despite the measures taken by the national authorities, showed that Guinea’s health system was not well-prepared, so was society.
The explanation may be partly found in the political unrest in the republic. The political crisis linked to the legislative elections and constitutional referendum in March has had a strong impact on the course of the pandemic and the behaviour of the population towards it. There has, apparently, been a breakdown of trust between a big part of the population and the rulers. Such a lack of trust is not the best ally in times of crisis. The measures taken by the government: the state of health emergency, travel restrictions and the wearing of masks in public spaces were not immediately accepted and followed, as long as they were seen as an attempt to use the pandemics in the political course, therefore the measures were not taken seriously and realistically.
Another factor that influenced the spread of the latest coronavirus in Guinea was religion. The absolute majority of Guineans (around 85%) practice Islam. In many orthodox communities the existence of the virus was denied or perceived as God's will, therefore it is not to oppose.
According to earlier research data, up to 40% of people who tested positive refused to be treated.
In this complicated situation of the political crisis, street protest, untrust of government’s actions, poverty of the majority of the population, which is in daily quest for food and therefore hard to lock down, the MasterPeace club came with a solution. The main challenge, according to the leader of the MasterPeace club in Conakry (the capital of the Republic of Guinea) Philip Kpakiwa, was that people neglected the advice on how to protect themselves and the ones around. The MasterPeace team already had an experience of fighting against epidemics: Guinea was at the core of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. They knew how to mobilize people, how to spread information and, most importantly, how to build trust.
Masterpeace used their connections and presence in the neighbourhood to educate people about basic hygiene rules that help to prevent spreading the disease. They went door to door and talked to people in each household personally convincing them about washing hands with soap for 20 seconds, keeping 1,5 meter distance and wearing a mask in public spaces, such as transport or markets. The last point, all of a sudden, appeared to be a bigger issue as many people confessed that they are afraid to suffocate in a mask. This is a very well known fact that panic attacks (it was them) with abrupt choking feeling are often a symptom of prolonged anxiety. On the other hand, anxiety is highly likely, if not to say, normal in the given circumstances. The MasterPeace team members and volontaires were, obviously, wearing masks themselves and they decided to give masks away so that people could try them on and, eventually, wear. When it was clear that the first experience was successful the MasterPeace quickly mobilized its members and found resources to produce more masks. Over 300 people received means of protection and about 2000 people were informed about the threat and the ways to stay healthy.
Through recognition and friendly conversations, open and patient discussions and rational arguments the MasterPeace team reached to people's minds and hearts helping them to allay fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemics and be more safe. After the first massive campaign the MasterPeace club has continued supporting the community providing masks but most importantly spreading the knowledge. Since then there were more organisations in Conakry that joined their efforts helping to build resilient society and gain trust in each other.
The crisis has shown us how deeply we are connected to others and to our planet. Philip Kpakiwa shares his personal lesson he has learned from this experience: “It became crystal clear to me how deeply people associate themselves with their culture, how much they are bonded to their religion and their communities, and how many aspects of life and, eventually, death, depend on those bonds.” There is, naturally, the right to protest and to express political views, and the right for work and the adequate standard of living, as well as there is time and space for religious rituals but “the common sense must prevail if we care for others” - Philip adds.