“It is not easy to stay home for such long time, but at this moment we have no choice. At school, we were engaged in many activities and there is no dull moment", says 15-year-old Farzana, a grade 10 student and president of Kachua Surjdo Kiran (Sun Beam) Child Forum, in Kachua Area Program, in Bagherhat District, Southern Bangladesh.
Farzana, who is also a member of National Child Forum, says, “I was shocked at how quickly things really slowed immediately after the Government declared the national lock-down in March. Now we are disconnected from friends, teachers and we are not allowed to even visit each other in the community. We however know that the Bangladesh Government has done this for the good of very citizens.
Fighting an invisible enemy is very difficult. Hence, we should not get panic but mindful", says Farzana.
In the forum for instance, we would have weekly plans for young people to talk about various issues such as children's rights and we discuss we advocate for our entitlements from our civic leaders.”
However, not all is lost. Before the complete lock-down, a World Vision community facilitator visited our home to share preventive messages about the corona virus and left us a leaflet. As a leader, I knew that my members in the forum were desperate for correct and factual messages about the pandemic. Therefore, I extensively share with all member who have access to mobile phones and we had good discussions on the platforms.
We are also sharing government messages on the platforms just to ensure everyone has the right information. Our region is a disaster-prone area, as it is hit by cyclones almost every year. But this is different for us.”
Farzana and other members of this child forum are not going out far from their homes in line with government instructions. From their previous experiences of Natural Disaster like Cyclone, they know that during disaster many children become victim of child abuse, child trafficking, physical violence, sexual abuse and child marriage.
By way of ensuring children are protected, Farzana has alerted all other child forum leaders to keep their eyes and ears open, she said, “We are keeping in touch with each other, if we get any news of child abuse, I will contact with the Children and Women Welfare Officer of the local Government. She is very responsive to us as we worked together before.”
About 70,000 members of 2,000 child forums of World Vision Bangladesh across the country are actively engaged to fight against COVID-19 using social media platforms.
World Vision is using telecommunications and bulk SMS messages to reach a large number of children and their families with hygiene messages in order to help prevent new COVID-19 cases. Bangladesh is one of the top countries in Asia with a large population exposed to telecommunications. SMS is one of the most cost-and -time effective media available to disseminate behaviour-change messages that address misconceptions about COVID-19, especially during such long-term national lockdowns. World Vision, in Bangladesh, has sent bulk SMS texts to 143,346 people to date.