When she first heard of the coronavirus, Maria Helena Frederico Amade was scared.
“I heard about it through the television, when the first case was reported in Mozambique. The virus was coming from other countries, ones that usually support us with medicines,” she said.
But thanks to COVID-19 prevention training provided by a Canadian-supported program, Maria learned that prevention was something she could help control. Armed with this knowledge, she started talking to her neighbours about the risks posed by COVID-19, and the many ways they can help protect themselves and others. As the president of her Community Health Committee, Maria is a trusted leader and a valuable source of information in her village.
The coronavirus has changed daily life in Maria’s community. “People are afraid because there isn’t a known cure, and no one knows when it will end. It is different from cholera—we can see the signs, and we know how to treat it.”
The uncertainty around COVID-19 has stopped almost all movement within her village. “It is strangely quiet,” she says. “There is no play; there is no movement.”
That hasn’t stopped Maria from continuing to raise awareness about how to protect oneself from this new disease. With the help of her grandson, she continues to safely visit her neighbours on her wheelchair. “I go out to do this activity because collectively we can stop the spread of the disease. I feel very proud to be able to help disseminate information in my community, especially in this area of health, in which I have worked for 11 years,” she says.
While there are challenges still ahead, Maria has inspired many others in her community to share information, and adopt measures that support social distancing. Hand washing and masks have now become much more commonplace. She has also seen a greater interest from the community in accessing reliable information, and clarifying doubts.
As the global pandemic wears on, the need to work together remains steadfast, both in our communities and around the world. We all need to do our part in keeping our families, communities, and the world safe.
“Let’s all be on top of fight against the coronavirus,” says Maria.
Canadian-supported programs like these help ensure community health volunteers like Maria have the knowledge and capacity to share reliable health information, particularly in areas where traditional methods of information sharing fall short. This is especially important during health crises like COVID-19, when the spread of misinformation can also be deadly.
Learn more about this program here.