“It’s our duty to be there in the frontline, doing something for the community”

Haroun, from Senegal, volunteers for the COVID-19 response in Italy

28 April 2020

“I had a job, I had a home. And I lost them, again. But I never gave up, there’s always something positive you can do.

My name is Haroun, I am 20 years old and I come from Senegal. I arrived in Italy five years ago, in Trapani, in Sicily, an island in the south of Italy. It was not easy for me starting a new life here but I tried to do my best in order to build the basis for my future life, starting again from zero, trying to find my way.

I started working, saving money, I rented a room where I was living alone and I started volunteering, I always thought that I had to give back the good I had from the community hosting me.

Then the pandemic. I didn’t imagine an emergency of this magnitude. I lost my job and I had to leave my home, the place where I was about to build my new life because I was not able to pay my rent. I live now with a friend.

Anyway, I never lost a positive attitude. I had only one thing in mind: I couldn’t stand idly by. This disease affects all countries, the whole world is trying to fight this common enemy. We need to be there for each other.

There are a lot of people who are weak, who have just to observe the preventive measures. There are other people who are stronger, who have more energy, and so it’s our duty to be there in the frontline, doing something for the community that is our place.

Haroun in Italy

So, one day, I told a friend of mine there was something I would like to do. The next day we were at the Municipality asking about the possibility to volunteer delivering food to the homes of people who cannot go outside. The word-of-mouth worked well and in a few days there were 19 of us, all migrants and refugees, volunteering with me. In cooperation with a local non-governmental organization, we started supporting our community in this way.

A lot of people thank us, saying we are good boys. I think we are not doing anything special. This virus is showing us that we are all equal, there are no Africans, no Italians: we are a community. This means that we all are at risk, we all have to be careful, we all have the duty to protect and the same right to be protected.”


UNICEF works with adolescents and young people across the Europe and Central Asia Region, with a strong focus on those from marginalized groups, including refugees and migrants. We are using innovative approaches to amplify their voices through U-Report on the Move and unleash their entrepreneurial skills to benefit their host communities through UPSHIFT.

UNICEF is expanding this work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, striving to stop the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable against its impact by building on effective initiatives that are already in place. We are appealing for $38 million for the Europe and Central Asia Region to support this expansion as part of UNICEF’s Global Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) for COVID-19 response.