By Generations For Peace Nigeria
Even before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Nigeria in late February 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had been working to educate the public about the virus and protect the country. The government initiated a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to facilitate a national response to the outbreak once it reached Nigeria. Knowing that the virus could spread like wildfire, the government imposed a lockdown on 30 March 2020 in order to slow its spread. Still, the government recognised that this would not be enough to overcome the outbreak and consequently launched a campaign under the theme #TakeResponsibility, calling on Nigerians to practise responsible citizenship during this time to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
Youth across Nigeria quickly stepped up to the challenge, not only participating in the campaign but other exploring ways to make a difference. Chukwudi Clement Iweh, a seventh-generation Generations For Peace Delegate in Nigeria, is just one of the many youth who took it upon themselves to further the local COVID-19 response. Chukwudi is working in his community to sensitise others on the danger of the virus and has joined other youth in a “Nigeria Corona Squad” campaign, a community youth-led group dedicated to sharing accurate information from the World Health Organisation about the pandemic. “My time with Generations For Peace has instilled in me the importance of ‘Responsible Citizenship.’ When I heard of this call to action by my government, I knew I had to act,” he shares.
Chukwudi volunteers his time with his peers leading community awareness initiatives and distributing palliatives to households in need in his community. As a peacebuilder and a community immunity ambassador, he raises awareness on proper hand washing, personal hygiene, and health education amongst children in rural communities using poems, rhymes, and visual aids, while maintaining physical distancing.
Similarly, Olufunke Bamikole (Funke), a seventh-generation Generations For Peace Pioneer, decided she had to be a part of the solution as well, instead of watching the pandemic cause irreparable damage to her country. She took advantage of an opportunity to undergo an online COVID-19 training to gain a better understanding on the disease, and after the completion of the training, she took it upon herself to share the new knowledge with her immediate family.
Funke also decided she could further the information she learnt via social media, sharing the importance of breaking the chain of the infection by staying safe at home, practising personal hygiene, promoting the use of hand sanitisers, maintaining physical distancing, and avoiding crowded areas. Funke created videos that were shared via social media that called on her peers to stay home in order to stay safe.
Both Funke and Chukwudi believe social change begins with personal responsibility and is sustained when people, especially youth, are actively engaged in creating the shared future of their community. “Right now, being a responsible citizen entails staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When we do stay home, very, very soon, we will bounce back to our normal daily lives. The safety of our local communities, our nation, and our entire world depends on our actions,” says Olufunke.
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