Meet Eugenia: A Community Hero in the COVID-19 era

Friday 10 July 2020

Eugenia (41) is a mother of two. She lives in Chitungwiza, a town located approximately 30 kilometres south-east of the capital city, Harare. She works as a teacher at a local primary school. Eugenia is a volunteer community facilitator in Chitungwiza town, under Save the Children’s ‘Education Cannot Wait’ project.

“I was selected together with five other teachers by our School Head to participate in a training on COVID-19 at Chaminuka Primary School. That’s when we met Save the Children and they asked us if we would like to volunteer under the Education Cannot Wait project as community facilitators and we agreed. ”

Zimbabwe has been in lockdown since the end of March, and all schools were closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To support communities during this period, Save the Children introduced the 'Education Cannot Wait' Project in Chitungwiza and Epworth towns, where 200 community facilitators including Eugenia were trained and have been conducting door to door home visits in the community.

Eugenia leaves a household

Eugenia explained that the home visits aim at raising awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting learning at home for children and providing psychosocial support to children.

“I conduct door-to-door visits on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and I reach at least 10 households in a day. When I get at a household, I ask if there are children in primary school level and seek permission to talk with them and their parents or guardians. ”

“I interact with the families and explain what coronavirus is, describe it's symptoms and how it is transmitted. I also explain the importance of practicing good hygiene such as regular handwashing to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.”

“During the visits, I enquire if children have been studying at home and also asks to see their books. I encourage parents to monitor and help their children with school work so that they do not forget what they have been learning at school and I also encourage children to listen to their parents. Eugenia says that, as a community facilitator, she is the ears of the community. She notes the concerns of children and how they are living."

Eugenia speaks with a family during a home visit

“Some children tell me about challenges they are facing at home and I counsel them. If there are serious cases that need to be addressed, such as child abuse, I note them and refer them to the responsible authorities such as the Department of Social Welfare, Police and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.”

To ensure the effectiveness of the programme, Eugenia meets with other facilitators from her community every week to discuss their work and share ideas.

“We conduct weekly meetings with other facilitators where we give feedback on how the door-to-door campaign is going, share ideas on how we can improve and also develop learning materials to share with children from the households that we will be visiting.”

Eugenia says volunteering under the project has been one of the most fulfilling things she done in her life and she says the door to door campaign has been the most effective way to raise awareness within the community. At the end of each 10- 15-minute visit, members of the household are able to ask questions and share their concerns that are noted and addressed by Eugenia.

Twenty thousand children from Chitungwiza and Epworth will benefit from the door-to-door visits.