#COVIDPositiveStories – Patricia Okolo

Patrica Okolo is Operations Manager of  Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV). This is her #COVIDPositiveStory.

The current shut down of activities in most states in the country, with citizens compelled to stay at home, comes with unintended consequences due to lack of basic services like water and electricity, and no provisions of funds, food, soaps and or sanitizers. There will also be an increase in sickness and deaths from COVID-19 as people continue to move around and spread the virus disregarding social distancing precautions, this inspired me to take action. 

Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV) COVID-19 Response Project on April 2, 2020, was implemented in a bid to get ahead of the envisaged societal unrest and healthcare overload that could result from a pandemic response without adequate social protection. The Project was set up to support awareness of COVID-19 and its prevention, and to sponsor response and recovery activities for the most vulnerable populations and for grassroots health care workers.

50 volunteers were deployed to  25 communities including Alimosho and Mushin in Lagos state, Uyo and Ikot Epene in Akwa Ibom State, Osogbo, Abuja, Makurdi, PortHarcourt, Enugu, Jos and Lokoja. Other locations are Fagge and Nasarawa LGA in Kano state, Aba and Umuahiain Abia state, Kaduna, Benin City, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Sagamu, Minna, Onitsha, Gombe, and Yenogoa. These volunteers reached out to about 20 families in each of these places with food and hygiene supplies. Over 1000 men, women and children have received a weeks’ worth of food; and  Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPE) such as N95 face masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, protective glasses, disposable gowns, and headcovers were donated to community health centres in  Portharcourt, Jos, Kwara, Owerri, Kano, and Benin City.

In Makurdi, the family of Abraham Ngufan, a primary school teacher and a driver in his spare time was one of the beneficiaries. He has five children and is the sole provider. He said things have been very bad for them as a result of the lockdown because schools have been shut down and movement have been restricted.

Mrs Evelyn, 36 who lives in a batcher made of planks and used roofing sheets with her husband, daughter and son was a SI4DEV beneficiary in Karu Abuja. Mrs Evelyn is deaf and sustains the family by going from one household to the other washing clothes in exchange for little pay. The husband only earns when he serves masons where there is new construction. With the shutdown, that opportunity is lost. In their condition, the family is trying their best to see their kids through primary school, but the shutdown means they are missing out on the education that can make their future better. When asked how they feel about the intervention, the couple said they were grateful to the organization for the food items as they will go a long way in sustaining them for a while but hopes the pandemic passes by soon so they can support their family.

Mrs Promise Emeka cried, “thank you for coming around when the situation seems hectic; you are the saviour we just witnessed for these kids especially.”

The village head at Gada Shagari near Lokoja Kogi state said, “thank you so much for this act of kindness you just did, may the Almighty God bless you and the organization you represent.”

“We are grateful to the organization that has made this awareness possible and also provisions made are of great importance at this moment when everybody is on lockdown.” Said Mohammed Yusuf in Kaduna.

Our Sustainability plan is to recruit motivated women to be part of our Street business school program.

I observed that most people living in rural communities are not well sensitized, most believe the Virus is not in Nigeria, we had to change their mindset on that, and educate them on the precautionary measures.

My Advice to Youth is that every youth should use this opportunity to educate people around them on COVID-19 Precautionary measures, and make sure they developed themselves professionally this period