Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in April, work has changed for 34-year-old employee of the Liberia National Police Tula Q. Walee. She is the Deputy Commander of the Women and Children Protection Section at the Zone-Five Police Depot in the Soul Clinic Community of Paynesville.
Unlike the pre-Coronavirus era when she worked a normal working day, Tula now works 13-hours a day investigating rape and domestic violence cases.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we were working between five to seven hours, and we had three to four cases in a week; but now, the number of cases has increased. We have about 25 to 30 cases in a week, and most of these cases are centered on domestic violence and sexual abuse. We have received more cases on rape since the outbreak of this pandemic. Some of the perpetrators that we arrested were sent to court,” said Tula.
Stay at home orders and curfews forced families to spend more time together inadvertently straining relationships. COVID-19 put pressure on them because the main bread winners were force out of work. These realities and restrictions have created untenable conditions in many homes.
According to UN Women, domestic violence cases could exceed the existing number of women and girls subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the wake of the coronavirus. The UN Secretary-General has urged all governments to make the prevention of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.
Tula has kept her office open to her community to ensure quick response to domestic violence cases.
“We do this because we do not want to miss out on any case during these times or keep people waiting that long,” said Tula.
Her commitment to serve her country as a frontline worker has come with a lot of personal sacrifices. This wife and mother said that the toughest part for her was acknowledging that she would not have much time with her family, especially her toddler.
“I leave my home as early as 6:30 am. I return by 8 pm. So I miss out on a lot of things when it comes to my family,” said Tula. “But my husband has been supportive. He is an educator but he is not working at the moment; so he stays home and supervises activities when I am away. He makes sure that the children and out baby are catered to. I am grateful for that.”
In addition, Tula has also had a little time to eat while on the job. One of her challenges, she said, has been getting food.
“The assignment keeps us busy to the point that we skip lunch sometimes. We are the only two staff members currently working in this department and there is no chance to get food. In this environment, it is difficult to find well-prepared food. To get one, you will have to go to the Duport Road Junction area which is 30 minutes drive on a motorcycle,” said Tula.
Fortunately for Tula, Cookshop.biz, an online and on-demand food delivery service, has launched its “Feed the Frontline” campaign to provide 200 daily meals per day to frontline workers like Tula. Cookshop has partnered with restaurants across Montserrado County to provide hot meals for frontline workers. This initiative has also helped keep them and local farmers in business during COVID-19.
The campaign to Feed the Frontline was birthed from a partnership with the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), where Cookshop.biz delivered over three-thousand meals to frontline workers.
Tula who has been working with the Women and Children Protection section since 2013, lauded Cookshop.biz for such an initiative. Responding to how the initiative could impact her work, she said that it increases her efficiency. “I will not have to close the office for about an hour because I have to grab a meal,” said Tula. “Now I can stay here and eat and get back to work as soon as possible.”
If you’d like to donate to the Feed the Frontline campaign, log on to Cookshop.biz, or dial *747# on the Lonestar network. You can even donate by downloading the Cookshop App or by mobile money to +231 0888210014. Your donation will ensure frontline workers have meals to eat everyday and more importantly, have the strength to eradicate COVID-19.