A follow-up report about the COVID-19 Prevention Campaign in Afghanistan!

[Original by Maki KATO, Afghanistan Project (April 9, 2020); Translated by J. Tsuchiya/A. Taguchi]

As I have written in my previous article, YVO, our partner organization in Afghanistan, has launched an activity to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

In Afghanistan, Herat Province, which borders Iran has the largest number of cases, followed by Kabul, the capital. Nangarhar Province, our operation site, has recorded only a few confirmed cases, but the situation is unpredictable because there are patients who haven’t yet been tested, and hygiene and medical facilities in the region are scarce and difficult to access.

The villagers who take part in the volunteer work for the prevention activities are teachers and students from the Literacy Education Program operated by JVC and YVO. How nice isn’t it? In March of this year, when they were to hold a completion ceremony of the one-year-program, they learned that Afghanistan was also beginning to have cases of the new coronavirus. In response, they instantly decided to launch an enlightenment campaign in their own hometowns using their newly acquired literacy skills. Wonderful! The YVO staff members promptly changed their plans and budget and rushed around searching for required materials even though the shops in towns were closing one after another.

An activity meeting in the Jalalabad office.

The goods to be delivered such as soaps and disinfectants are hard to find, but are now loaded in the car. Let’s go to the village!

According to the staff who went into the field, a checkpoint had been set up at a bridge that connects Jalalabad, where their office is, and the village of their activity area. He said that only those who had permission can cross the bridge. We already had permission from the government to go to the village for the COVID-19 prevention activity, and therefore, could go through the checkpoint.

After arriving at the village, the staff were divided into two groups: women and men, and they started to inform the volunteer students of basic knowledge about the new coronavirus. They told them that this virus is infectious, even for Muslims because there has been a rumor that Muslims won’t get infected with the virus. They also conveyed information about known symptoms and prevention measures to be taken. Then, the students wore masks and visited their neighboring homes to call for a precaution.

We handed hygiene kits to volunteers.

Campaign volunteers are the teachers and students of the Literacy Education Program.

The male students of the Literacy Education Program.

Hand-made posters with information from the Ministry of Health were displayed in prominent places of each village. It shows illustrations of prevention measures such as “Wash Your Hands”, “Cover Your Cough”, and “Keep Distance”.

We asked the shops on the main street of the village to hang the posters.

The villagers already use the poster!

Mr. Wahab, a YVO staff and a doctor, also took part in this campaign. He gave some advice and asked villagers to call on as many people as possible for the prevention of the infection. He said, on the way back to the office, he saw a young villager whom he had asked to join the campaign explaining the prevention measures to neighboring villagers by using the poster!

I hope this campaign will save as many lives as possible and as soon as possible.

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