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Teen and peers in Burkina Faso spread word on keeping safe during outbreak

POSTED May 27, 2020

Teen and peers in Burkina Faso spread word on keeping safe during outbreak

Find out how students are making sure messages about how to prevent the virus are heard

By Patrice Zongo, communications manager, Burkina Faso

A girl washes her hands

Raïnata, 16, lives in Eastern Burkina Faso with her parents and has been busy preparing to get her General Certificate of Secondary Education at the end of her school year in June. However, like many schools around the world, Raïnata’s is closed due to COVID-19, and her exam will likely be rescheduled.

Although it’s disappointing, the teen supports the decision to close schools to prevent spread of the virus. There haven’t been cases in her village yet, but she’s learning about the illness through the media and Children Believe information sessions, so she’s prepared. “I try to promote those behaviours around me, starting at home,” she explained, noting that she tells friends and family about the importance of handwashing, wearing facemasks, social-distancing and isolating at home.

It’s not surprising she’s keeping herself informed. As a member of a Children Leaders’ group, founded by Children Believe, Raïnata and her peers are learning how to help bring significant change to their community, especially when it comes to advocating for child protection.

“I have learned that as a leader, I should always inspire others by [setting] a good example. This is why I volunteered to contribute to the awareness-raising campaign,” she told me.

But, she’s doing more than that. The young leader and advocate has joined with members of the Children Leaders’ group, comprised of more than 20 youth, to help nearby communities — at a safe distance.

With Children Believe’s support, the young leaders are sharing messages about the importance of handwashing, social-distancing and wearing face masks to help prevent COVID-19, as people are still learning more about how to react if the virus spreads to their community. So far, the young people’s messages have reached more than 1,200 people, and they intend to keep sharing what they know in regions where misinformation about the virus is causing fear and confusion.

Keeping children safe is their priority, but Raïnata hasn’t lost sight of the importance of getting an education. She’s eagerly anticipating her tentative return to the classroom June 1 (if it’s still safe to do so).

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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.

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