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COVID-19 positive case causes stigma in Ghana community

POSTED July 9, 2020

COVID-19 positive case causes stigma in Ghana community

Find out how Children Believe is helping to educate on preventing the virus to keep everyone safe and informed

By William Anim-Dankwa, communications manager, Ghana

Man stands in front tree

Mawong, 26, is ambitious and committed to achieving his goal of going to university to become a teacher, but fear about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and uncertainty about the future temporary changed his focus.

The former sponsored child found out he had COVID-19 during random community testing, while returning from running errands for his family in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. He was asked to report to the closest hospital.

“Though I was shocked, I heeded the advice of the medical staff of the Bimbilla hospital where I was treated and returned to my community at Dakpam after four days,” he told me. He was happy to be back at home; happy to know his family had tested negative for the virus and only had to self-quarantine.

But, that was when the stigma started to unfold. The community, which faced no COVID-19 restrictions up to that point, rejected him. They refused to let him come home until he had completely recovered from COVID.

In fact, a key government representative in the district personally visited the town to restore confidence in the system and encourage the community to accept Mawong.

Still, after coming out of self-isolation, the community members shunned the family; local women would not fetch water from the same waterpoints.

That’s when Children Believe joined with our local partner AG-Care to help the community understand how to reduce the risk of illness by social-distancing, wearing face masks and washing their hands regularly. They shared the message through radio and loud speakers.

Mawong is grateful his community could learn more, but he was also understanding of the reaction he received after returning home from the hospital. “I have no hard feelings against the community, because they were afraid and shunned my company to avoid contracting the disease, which was a normal reaction,” he said.

Today the community has a better understanding of the illness and Mawong is focused on the road ahead. “I need to prepare for school when the university re-opens, and I need to support my family,” he says as he heads home.

Visit childrenbelieve.ca/covid-19 to learn more about how COVID is impacting our communities and how you can help.

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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.