It’s in the mail
UNICEF partners with the Romanian Post to inform the most vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic
Romania’s most marginalized groups – children from poor rural areas, large families, Roma children, children with parents working abroad, and children living with disabilities – have seen the COVID-19 pandemic deepening their vulnerabilities. During the current national lockdown, social distancing has limited their access to information on how to stay safe and healthy, not to mention their connection with the wider society.
In the countryside, where half of Romania’s children live, Internet coverage remains at 47 per cent, compared to the urban 74 per cent. With low access to mobile devices as well, especially among children from large families in rural areas, this means fewer chances to know about preventing the spread of the virus, and less help to cope with the new living routines.
As UNICEF has developed and distributed risk communication materials for children and parents across the country, there needed to be another way – beyond websites, social media channels and other online platforms – to get the vital message across.
UNICEF flyers provide essential information on correct hygiene and prevention of COVID-19 as well as ways to spend time in isolation
This is the backdrop to UNICEF partnering with the Romanian Post to provide such information to vulnerable children, families and caretakers in two counties in Romania. Beginning this month, together with the usual mail and social welfare benefits, postal workers have started distributing 1,080,000 flyers in Bacău and Brașov counties, in eastern and central Romania.
They have been developed together with the Romanian Red Cross, with whom UNICEF joined efforts since the beginning of the crisis, to create and share a variety of communication materials, to combat fake news and shed light into the present flood of information.
Each vulnerable family in these counties is getting three flyers: Essential tips on hygiene and prevention (including the proper use of facemasks), recommendations for how parents can talk to their children about the situation, and ideas for how children can spend time while at home.
It is expected that 360,000 recipients and their families will be reached this way, including grandparents and caretakers who are looking after children whose parents are abroad for work. According to official data, around 85,000 children have parents working overseas
UNICEF’s partnership with the national postal service is being piloted in Bacău and Brașov, amid plans to expand nationally
A first step, ahead of nationwide expansion
UNICEF’s partnership with the national postal service is being piloted in Bacău and Brașov, amid plans to expand nationally. Horia Grigorescu, General Manager of the Romanian Post, links the organization’s pro bono involvement in the information campaign to the postal service’s own philosophy. "The Romanian Post has the necessary logistics and human resources to distribute to the population the information messages developed by UNICEF,” he says. “Participating in this humanitarian action, we are ‘a part of people's lives,’ as our slogan says.”
UNICEF Representative in Romania, Pieter Bult, expressed his thanks. "We are glad to start this partnership as a way for our messages to reach especially the most vulnerable families among us. Romanian Post is a company with national coverage, whose support and involvement matters a lot in these times,” he said.
“Those of us who deliver the mail, we are part of the village, for better or for worse,” says Cioacă. “We try to help people. While some people can get this information online, others cannot, so we are doing this to help.”