As millions of children in Sudan remain out of their schools and classrooms due to the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in learning institutions being shut down, they are finding meaningful ways to spend their time at home.
Meet 13-year-old Nouraldin from a district in Damazin locality, southeast of Sudan, who is leading/promoting COVID-19 awareness starting with his household, and influencing his peers to seriously consider their actions. It all started in May, when he heard from a distance what sounded like an announcement being made; they were messages about the highly infectious novel coronavirus being broadcast from a loudspeaker from a moving vehicle going around in his community.
World Vision, in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health in Blue Nile state, has been carrying out coronavirus awareness campaigns including broadcasting messages through radio and television; educating community members on the risks and how they can contribute to preventing its spread. Funding through the OCHA’s Sudan Humanitarian Fund, has made all this possible.
Nouraldin's family’s radio has come very much in handy these days, as a trusted source of up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic, as well the repeated risk and prevention advertisements. Through the local radio station, Community Radio Fm, Nouraldin says he learnt that the virus was deadly –a message that stuck with him.
“Ever since I started listening to the radio and learning about coronavirus, I knew it was something very serious that people needed to pay more attention to” Nouraldin notes. “Hearing, for example, that the virus can be spread when people touch contaminated surfaces or objects, made me very worried. I also know, through radio, that the disease has caused many deaths here in Sudan and all over the world."
Having this kind of information is important, Nouraldin says, adding that it has influenced how he has responded to the messages being broadcast regularly about the virus: “I like to be aware of everything that’s going on, so that I can I help champion prevention efforts at home.”
“To me, the messages I receive through the radio are very clear and I take them very seriously. I believe we will be okay, if all follow the advice being given appropriately,” he observes, adding that everyone should stay committed to preventive behaviours to win the fight again the coronavirus.
Nouraldin’s mother, Saadiya says his son is like the prefect of the household when it comes to applying the recommended preventive behaviours: “I have been amazed at my son’s interest in this disease, as young as he is, and how he takes the messages very seriously, and this has affected all of us at how we treat the disease.”
Saadiya adds: “He is always keeping a watchful eye on everyone, to make sure that we are strictly observing all the safety guidelines as advised by the authorities. You will always hear or see him reminding family members to do this and that.”
“In fact, because of Nouraldin, his father and I have had to reconsider our decisions lately. Recently, I declined to participate in a wedding for one of my close relatives, because I was challenged by my son’s take on this virus." continues Saadiya. "For now, I have chosen not to take part in any gatherings until the health authorities announce that the pandemic is over.”
Saadiya only goes to the market to get essentials. She expresses pride in her son for increasing their alertness: “As a mother I am very proud of how my son, though young, is leading us adults, in learning more about this virus, and keeping an eye on us, so that we can prevent infection.”
At this, Nouraldin observes: “I am happy that my parents are taking what is being said about the coronavirus, seriously.”
Nouraldin, who says he greatly misses being in school and with his classmates, vows to continue being a behaviour change champion, even beyond COVID-19. “When we are back to school, I and my friends will work with our teachers to educate all students on the importance of hand-washing,” he explains.
Since March, 2020 in collaboration with our partners, World Vision had reached an estimated 539,587 people covering four states across Sudan with COVID-19 risk and prevention campaigns (including through mass media) as well as interventions to reduce the impact of the pandemic for the most vulnerable. In Blue Nile state, our COVID-19 response efforts have been made possible through OCHA's Sudan Humanitarian Fund.
Photos by Mutwakil al Jamry. Gamal Ghallab, World Vision Sudan Communications Officer, contributed to this story.
Learn more about World Vision's response to COVID-19 across Africa.