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As I face the threats of COVID19, my strength comes from helping protect South Sudan’s mothers and children

“It is terrible to see and feel the fear of mothers for their children as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly impacts the communities in South Sudan. Many of the women I meet and talk live in the Protection of Civilians (POC) site and displaced people's (IDP) camps. Their tents are crowded. They share washrooms and toilets”, says Annet Kabang, World Vision’s Food assistance Field Coordinator in Juba.

Annet’s work requires her to supervise food distribution for around 40,000 people every month. Her job became even more necessary as the food supply is critical to people inside the POC sites and IDP camps with limited access to resources.

The thousands of people in the confined environment in these camps around Juba make it almost impossible for social distancing and isolation as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent the spread of the virus. Apart from this, there are limited hygiene facilities and the health clinics are not enough.

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Annet helping a food assistance volunteer. While she is aware of the risks, Annet looks at the brighter side of helping her countrymen overcome this pandemic. "It empowers me", she says.

 

“Everyone’s prayer is that the pandemic does not spread especially in these areas, or many will lose their lives”, Annet adds.

The 27-year-old mother of two stresses, “Among the staff, there is a great fear of exposure to the virus during food distributions. But we have the protective gear, like the gloves, masks, hand washing facilities and practice social distance among the beneficiaries to avoid contact.”

My job has empowered me. It has changed my life and that of my family’s for the better. I love working with vulnerable communities, especially people with special needs, because it shows me the true picture, the realities, of life

The team’s responsibility now included campaigning for the prevention measures based on the WHO and the South Sudan Ministry of Health advisory. Each staff helps make sure the people are aware of the threats of COVID-19, understands the risks, and knows what they need to do to stay safe.

Annet has worked with World Vision for six years. She says, “My job has empowered me. It has changed my life and that of my family’s for the better. I love working with vulnerable communities, especially people with special needs, because it shows me the true picture, the realities, of life.”

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The team's work added educating people on the importance of hand washing and sanitizing to protect themselves from COVID19. There was a lot of adjustment made to keep reminding people of the prevention measures. "It was not easy to convince people but we all need to be patient", Annet explains.

 

“Our program has expanded with the inclusion of COVID19 interventions. We do not only distribute food but educate people about the pandemic. Our team often works even on weekends because we do not want any delay in providing them their food supply. If people can eat their meals, it will help protect them from the virus.”

Annet draws her strength from the mothers and children she serves at work and in her own community. “They inspire me to work despite warnings from my family. Every time I feel afraid, I remember that there is a child out there who needs me to do my work well and on time.  This is enough to give me courage, hope, and strength,” Annet says.

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"Never touch your face, especially if you have not washed your hands thoroughly", Annet reminds the women in the POC of the do's and don'ts to explain the prevention measures.

 

Story and photos by Scovia Faida Charles Duku, Communications Officer