I was involved in the Tropical Harold and COVID 19 Awareness in the communities west of Guadalcanal Province. I was involved with the Disaster Management Team in doing Assessment for households affected by the cyclone. The awareness was led by eight (8) Red Cross volunteers residing in the communities and I was the team leader. We covered over 14 remote, rural communities conducting house to house awareness to over 50 households. Taking the opportunity to talk to individuals as well. The awareness was on COVID-19 safety measures, proper hand washing techniques and steps to stop COVID-19 infection. The aim was to help people in the communities to be informed, prepared and take practical measures to stay safe should a positive case be identified in Solomon Islands.
Aside from TC Harold assessments, there were major challenges faced during the COVID-19 community awareness. The geographical locations of the communities are scattered and located on hillside, valleys and along the seaside making it difficult to access the communities. This affected the timeframe of the as most of the time was taken trying to reach the communities. Accessibility was a major challenge, unmaintained roads that were too risk to use. The alternative routes that were taken were unsafe. Social challenges included the lack of reception of the communities and its people did not allow for ample time to deliver messages, personal obligations making difficult to meet with communities. Despite these challenges, reassuring the team that we leave our home to serve and travel to the communities. At times having to stay overnight. Our approach was very targeted being children in schools, teachers, youths and key leaders and elders (male and female), church leaders whom we are confident will relay COVID 19 key messages to the communities visited.
I personally believe the awareness has made an impact in the lives of people in the communities we reached.
Hearing children, youth, and adults in the communities talk about COVID 19, their responses around practical measures to keep themselves and others safe is evidence that the awareness done enabled communities to be informed and prepared for COVID 19. I believe it is our responsibility to support and assist our people with information to be able to use this in time of a disaster.