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Community leaders commit to keeping kids safe from COVID-19

POSTED August 20, 2020

Community leaders commit to keeping kids safe from COVID-19

When she’s not tending her garden, Juana keeps an eye on the safety and well-being of her town as a volunteer health promoter

By Enmanuel Castro, communications manager, Nicaragua

Woman tends her garden

Local leaders play a fundamental role in protecting children in the communities where Children Believe works in Nicaragua.

That’s the case with Juana, a community leader trained by local program staff to help provide guidance for the well-being and health of local children and families. In the past, she would visit homes and check on children’s mental and physical health. Today, she watches out for them through social-media networks, such as WhatsApp and closed Facebook groups created just for their use.

Juana’s been identifying children with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, diarrhea and cough. When she sees a cause for concern, she talks to the child’s parents about the importance of visiting healthcare centres. Many are afraid they’ll expose their child to the virus, so medical attention is coordinated at the patient’s home when necessary.

And, although families are afraid of contracting COVID-19, Juana tells us they’re doing what they can to protect themselves.

“As far as possible, people in the community implement preventive measures, especially handwashing. However, families lack economic income to quarantine at home,” Juana explains.

In many Nicaraguan communities, mothers depend on informal work to provide food for their children. But, common informal jobs, such as washing and ironing people’s clothes, selling food or trinkets on the streets or cleaning houses, aren’t possible during this time.

Thanks to the Children Believe program, community members understand the importance of following good hygiene and preventive measures to keep safe from the virus. “We have distributed posters house to house, and they have been placed in key spaces in the community,” Juana says.

But that’s not all the local volunteers are doing. They’re also trying to help parents who have lost income and are sending their kids to class for the free school lunches. The leaders created a Facebook group where they share updates about the situation in their neighbourhood and preventive measures parents can apply to help their children avoid contracting COVID-19.

“I am aware of the needs in my community, that’s why I want to make a small contribution as a voluntary health promoter,” affirms Juana.

Children Believe Nicaragua is also implementing a COVID-19 response plan. So far, children and their families have received hygiene kits and information on how to keep safe and mentally healthy. Our local partners are also helping community health-centre staff reach more children and families.

The needs are many, but with committed leaders, small actions are making a big difference in keeping children safe and healthy during the pandemic.

To learn more about how Children Believe is helping provide support during the pandemic, visit childrenbelieve.ca/covid-19.

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE (formerly Christian Children's Fund of Canada):

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.