Community Mobilisers Take Key Messages to Affected Areas
Gizo, Solomon Islands, 16 April 2007 - As I approach the wooden building I can hear the sounds of laughter and discussion. I see a group of young people smiling and talking. They stand up, clap and break into a chorus after awhile. There is an atmosphere of serenity and happiness, as if the people of Gizo did not experience an earthquake and a tsunami only a week ago.
UNICEF in partnership with Oxfam, Early Childhood Department (Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development), Health Promotion Department (Ministry of Health and Medical Services), Uniting Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children’s Fund Australia and World Vision facilitated a four-day training for community mobilisers.
UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Elham Monsef said this initiative began last Friday, April 13, 2007 to try and reduce diarrhea, malaria, cough, cold, scabies and hygiene.
About twenty young people volunteered to assist in the formulation and dissemination of key health, nutrition and sanitation messages to the affected communities.
“Some of these young people are from the affected areas,” said UNICEF Senior Programme Assistant, Wryne Bennet, “so they take the messages with them and discuss it with the people in their community.”
To channel the messages, Bennet said the young people identified not only one to one communication but also the use of song and dance.
“Wryne and Raewyn Magu from Early Childhood Department have been instrumental in organizing this. We call them our angels,” Monsef said.
One of the Community Mobilisers (as they are currently named), Pastor Gabriel from the Seventh Day Adventist church said he felt that now the affected communities needed to focus on recovery and the way forward. “We have to try and move ahead instead of focusing on what we have lost. It is difficult but from what I see here, it seems there is a positive feeling amongst us and if we can take this back to our communities then I think that is a great start.”
Bennet said she felt that through this group of young people, UNICEF together with its partners could really make a positive impact.
Currently the Health Promotion Unit has three personnel from Honiara and one from the provincial office taking the lead in this initiative. The Community Mobilisers are scheduled to officially begin their work of message dissemination tomorrow.