My greatest hero: through the lens of a child

On World Children's Day, children celebrate their heroes and reimagine a better future for them

Fatoumata Adelle Barry (Writer & Poet)
Child
UNICEF Niger/Islamane/2020
19 November 2020

How can you learn new habits in a post-pandemic world when you are still a child?

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 virus as a global pandemic. Covid-19, his having a significant impact on the lives of both urban and rural populations and in all sectors. 

Children's lives have been deeply affected by the closure of schools and recreation centers. Niger has been able to effectively contain the spread of the virus, for the moment. 

This has been possible thanks to the efforts of the men and women who have chosen not to remain indifferent to the chaos that is befalling the world. 

At the risk of being driven out or threatened under a blazing April sun, they have held their full commitment in an unprecedented time. To show them gratitude for their significant efforts, Niamey's children have chosen to identify some of them as their heroes on behalf of all Nigerien children. For the first time, superheroes were no longer in children's imagination but on different communities' streets, investing their energies in meaningful and effective prevention.

UNICEF Niger/Islamane

In this collection, the Niger children celebrate the heroes that fought against Covid-19, whose actions have protected an entire country through individual interviews that highlight the heroes' singularity and values. These children wanted to hear and learn from these women and men who very quickly understood that "protecting oneself is like saving more than 20 million Nigeriens from a disaster, and that respecting a barrier-gesture is a way of breaking the transmission-chain of the virus".

André Breton said that "it is perhaps childhood that comes closest to real-life," so listening to children's voices may lead us to live better after the covid-19 era in a country like Niger.

What a hero looks like for a child?

Children define their heroes as ordinary people around them who have done meaningful and extraordinary things to fight Covid -19.

Field visit
CCFN

Abdoul-Salam, a third-year student, believes that a hero is someone who "stood up" to fight Covid-19. Issaka, on the other hand, sees a hero like the one who took a considerable risk to save lives. Abdoulaye considers the work of a hero as nothing more than a sacrifice.

Abdul-Wahab proclaims loudly that his hero has chosen to enlighten a whole community to avoid the worst.

Ousseina, a middle school final year student at Lycée Azzourou, from Agadez, quotes the Minister of Health as one of his Covid-heroes because he came out to support health and social workers. She appreciated him providing instructions and practical advice in asking the entire population to stay in their homes and follow the breakdown. Ousseina also thinks of her school teachers in Agadez, who demanded all strict respect of barrier gestures with a twice-daily reminder of the disease and the transmission modes.

Nabila praises her heroine as the one who, despite her significant others' reluctance, has decided to respect and implement barrier gestures in her family.

Oumarou finds courage in these women who go door-to-door to sensitize the population about Covid-19 in local languages, in these preachers who, despite the closure of religious places, found different ways to instruct believers and even nonbelievers on the consequences of not following the breakdown by reporting the example of some "hadiths."

Abdoulaye reports the noble actions of an inhabitant of Lazaret, who saw two people with the typical symptoms of Covid-19, and while everyone was fleeing, he called the emergency number "15". He did what it took to save lives and thus protect an entire neighborhood from being contaminated.

Beyond the Nigerien population, Abdoulaye wanted to notify the heroic character of his favorite soccer player Ronaldo, CR7, for having transformed his house into a hospital as a personal contribution to help patients suffering from Covid-19.

Abdoul-Salam, a child living in Karadjé, wanted to point out a particularity of the 2020 year. In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, he saw his community face another upheaval that forced most of his relatives and friends to move out from home urgently. Indeed, the recent flooding, which ravaged all the neighborhoods bordering the Niger river, deserves its place at the top of disasters. The trauma engendered by the material losses on the life of a child like Abdoul-Salam is enormous. As a child, he is a hero for helping his friends from a river that overflowed on them.

Participants
CCFN

There is a great value that characterizes each of the men and women honored here: it is the courage to do the right thing even when nobody knows and serving an entire country.

The heroes celebrated by these children are ordinary people who have chosen to do extraordinary deeds.

This initiative has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the United Nations CERF, the Government of Japan, the Government of Italy, the German Cooperation (BMZ), the Global Partnership for Education, The World Bank Group and USAID