Written by Brenda Geofrey, Barefoot Enriche Coordinator, Zanzibar
Our Enriche curriculum encompasses workshops such as handwashing practices and health modules. Solar trainees are being taught how many diseases can be prevented by washing their hands such as cholera, and more recently pandemics, one of which is COVID-19.
Raising Awareness Across the Island
After the outbreak, the Barefoot College Zanzibar team trained all employees and trainees to be aware of the virus. Information was and still is being disseminated including but not limited to our employees and trainees on campus about symptoms, preventions, as well as instructions in line with the World Health Organization and the ministry of health in our country.
The Barefoot College Zanzibar team has already produced and distributed at least 100,000 masks in collaboration with the Revolution Government of Zanzibar, UN women and Barefoot College International. Apart from distributing the masks, we are also distributing fliers with instructions on how to use the masks, so when a person is given a mask they also get the flier in a pack. For a person who can’t read it’s easier to understand the images in the flier.
The team has distributed masks in different elders’ houses in Zanzibar, all residences around our college in Kinyasini Village and its vicinity; the long-term plan is to reach all Zanzibarians!
Reaching Out to All Citizens
We have also enrolled ourselves in an application in which we can send more than two thousand messages per day (text messages). Messages are being created with information on symptoms, preventive measures, myth busters, and numbers to call for more information, distributed to several Zanzibarians. The messages emphasize the best preventive practices (washing hands, social distancing, wearing of masks, hand sanitizing, and the likes), aiming to minimize the spread of the virus. The purpose of this is to give education and raise awareness to all citizens.
Barefoot College Zanzibar has hired 20 more sewing ladies and empowers them with entrepreneurship and financial inclusion skills to help the current sewing team make extra masks. With their help, we’ll achieve our goal of reaching every Zanzibarian.
Going in hand with hiring new sewing ladies, the BCZ has also purchased new sewing machines. These machines will be used to make masks during COVID-19 and after the pandemic is over, the machines will be used by our trainees at the training center for all sewing purposes.
Campaigning for Menstrual Hygiene Awareness
Apart from that, we prepared a special campaign on our Social Media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) to mark International Menstrual Hygiene Day. The reason was to raise awareness to the community with hashtags like #PeriodsinPandemics and #ItstimeforAction.
Our Enriche Program Coordinator, Brenda Geofrey, also participated in a webinar under the topic ‘Making menstrual products accessible and affordable for girls and women’. Especially during this pandemic, girls face many challenges when shops may be closed, products are limited, they don’t have a good toilet at home, etc. The focus this year will be for those disadvantaged people.
As a member of African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) in Tanzania, we were invited to attend an online conference with a topic virtual consultation on COVID-19 response organized by UN Women and Africa Union (AU). It was clear that there is a serious under-representation of women and youth at the national level response to COVID-19. For instance, pregnant women are vulnerable to maternal complications including death during delivery. COVID-19 has now been added to their danger. No special attention has been given to protect them either from their families or on a national level. One of our most pressing focuses should be the ‘Inequalities and Vulnerability of Women and Children in this pandemic.’
I was impressed with AU Interventions that pointed out to include:
- Women Leaders’ commitment and participation in their respective jurisdictions
- Strategy/Guidelines for onward submission to the Heads of States
- Engagement with Governments at various levels
- Lack of Stimulus packages
- Health and Security
- Peace and Security
Barefoot College Zanzibar has continued making and distributing reusable masks to different people together with their beneficiaries. In doing so, other organizations like what we’re doing and have approached us to make masks for their employees and beneficiaries. For example, the Municipality at Magharibi A in Unguja has requested 8,000 masks.
We haven’t supplied masks only on Tanzania’s Island-
Since we have beneficiaries from the Mainland too, we’ve made sure that the COVID-19 education and masks also reach them and their families. We’ve additionally supplied masks and COVID-19 education to retailers, Mamas who sell in the market, house assistants and all kinds of women who normally interact with customers or a lot of people on a daily basis.
Last but not least, we have been providing feedback such as sending emails to our ground partners to share how Barefoot College Zanzibar has been at the front-line fighting this pandemic disease. However, we’re also requesting their further assistance/ contribution to support our efforts. This will ensure that we get through difficult times healthy and strong enough to see the vision, mission and ultimate goal of Barefoot College Zanzibar accomplished as intended.
Interested in supporting these crucial initiatives? Learn more.