The spokesperson of the Harbel College COVID-19 awareness task force has disclosed that they might be forced to end their campaign, which has reached 3,000 households if they are not members of the country’s COVID-19 task-force.
“Because of the state of emergency, we might end the campaign if our names are not included on the task-force. Therefore, making it hard for us to reach out to more people with lifesaving prevention measure messages, particularly those who are living in denial of the virus in the county.
“We have contacted the relevant health authorities, but no response. In a crisis like this, you need all hands on the dock, especially people who want to volunteer,” said Jurpor Gborkerquelle, the students’ spokesman.
So far, the students who are reading disaster management and Occupational safety have visited 14 communities in Margibi County.
Gborkerquelle added that the greater disconnect between the local officials’ rhetoric and the reality for potential coronavirus prevention, protection and treatments are the main reason why they have taken on the task to convey reliable protection measures to people of Margibi.
According to Gborkerquelle, they have developed a step-by-step guide that focuses on preventive measures, “particular handwashing message, personal hygiene and social distancing that is supported by leaflets to provide the advising methods needed to get results.”
“It is not a set of fixed rules, but a collection of health authorities’ recommendations simply picked and localized to fix Liberians cultural settings, and circumstances. This virus is a looming disaster, and if more awareness is not done, Liberia may become the next epicenter of the virus,” he added. “It is for this reason; we have embarked on this awareness to let people know that this economy and health disaster can be avoided if preventive measures are vigorously followed.”
In a crisis like this, Gborkerquelle said, the best thing to do is to create more awareness about the virus, follow by its preventative measure message before anything else.
“No matter how many buckets or protective materials are distributed among the population, any of such mitigation effort will be vain if people do not believe in the virus’s existence,” he said.
Gborkerquelle said from the look at the exponential spread of the disease worldwide, Liberia risk becoming an epicenter of the virus if the keen national focus is not on awareness.
“There is a lot of confusion and fear, and people are willing to try any untested remedy to protect them,” Gborkerquelle. “And this is where we come in and debunk the lie by letting them know what infectious experts have said about the virus. This way, they get to understand that frequent hand washing, good hygiene, and social distancing practices; will deny the virus the opportunity to spread.”
Gborkerquelle added in a time like this, information and social mobilization are key to informing individuals’ families and communities in clear practical terms of how they can minimize their risk of “catching the virus to keep themselves safe.”
Meanwhile, the President of Harbel College Dr. Syrulwa Somah has said before the students embarked on the campaign, they began by planning the ‘mix’ right, including the right messages, target audiences, and other factors to raise awareness about coronavirus disease.
“It is the first time in Liberia history that a higher education college designed a comprehensively relevant curriculum and to train students who promptly reacted to the health and safety crisis of such magnitude,” Dr. Somah said. “They communicated in English and in vernacular languages to reach out to the mass of people to enhance the content of the preventive messages in direct contact public relations which would have efficient impacts.”
During this awareness campaign, the students were wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and carrying informative flyers, students visited: Harbel Market, Harbel City (camp 1, 2, 3 and all other camps in Harbel), cotton tree, Barclay Farm, Harbel Hills, and Stewart Camp.
Other areas include Teachers Quarter, Division 42, Unification City, Joe Blow Town, Koe Town, Charleville, Air Shine, Nedonwein, Kakata, Dolo Town, Nezoe, and Division 44.