Young social media influencer sets to engage her peers on COVID-19 awareness
An effort to deepen public awareness about how to prevent COVID-19
Freetown, Sierra Leone - Through her Facebook page, 23-year-old Eunice Mustapha connects with thousands of followers from across Sierra Leone and beyond. Unlike most young people, whose social media activity focuses on the latest fashion and music trends, Eunice uses her creative writing skills and her passion for humanity to captivate the attention of young readers towards social issues which have an impact on their lives.
“Regardless of our young ages, anything concerning Sierra Leone, concerns us and can affect our lives. We therefore have a responsibility to support initiatives which are aimed to make our societies better,” says a soft-spoken Eunice, whose series of moving stories and articles on social media, portray the deep passion she has to elevate the voices and opportunities of young girls.
It came as a welcome recognition when Eunice was enlisted as one of the 50 social media influencers who was nominated by the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) to be a Share4Mama Salone Ambassador. UNICEF, with financial backing from the Swedish Development Aid Agency (SIDA), is supporting this national initiative, which aims to create greater public awareness about COVID-19 and dispel myths and rumours about the pandemic.
The nominated influencers include seasoned musicians, actors, journalists, politicians and bloggers, who are well known and respected opinion leaders on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp platforms. By using their social media pages to create and share compelling, accurate and consistent messages on COVID-19, these renowned men and women will deepen public awareness about how to prevent COVID-19, how to support those affected by the disease and generate confidence and knowledge about current responses to the pandemic.
For Eunice, the inclusion of young social media influencers to be Share4Mama Salone Ambassadors is a positive step towards keeping young people in touch with important information about the pandemic.
“To be recognised as one of the Share4Mama Salone Ambassadors, shows that Sierra Leone is serious about involving young people in fighting COVID-19 and its effects on the lives of young people,” says Eunice, who has written extensively on issues of teenage pregnancies and sexual abuse. “As a Share4Mama Salone Ambassador, I will continue to write on these issues and relate them to the situation of COVID-19.”
According to current statistics from NARCOVERC, COVID-19 fatality among young people aged 15 – 24 years is lower compared to fatality among those in the older age brackets. However, indications from various surveys and anecdotal accounts, show that measures introduced to slow the rate of transmission in the country, have upended the lives of young people.
Access to education was disrupted when schools were shut for seven months, many young people have been forced into economic activities to augment household incomes, while others have faced violence, abuse and exploitation, even from within their immediate family settings.
“Most of the challenges faced by young people during this COVID-19 period are economic. Some businesses have been closed, while many people lost their jobs during this period,” says Joel Kargbo, a young urban rap music artist who was also appointed as a Share4Mama Salone Ambassador.
Affectionately known as “Jooel” by his huge allegiance of fans, Joel believes that his songs and personality resonate well with young people who daily mimic the various songs he has produced. “Jooel” is therefore ready to pass on messages through video or audio content in a very creative manner to further attract children and young people to listen to messages on how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
“As a musician, I will create musical content on this very important issue and share significant news details about COVID-19 on all my social media handles,” said “Jooel”, who is followed by nearly 9,000 people on Facebook.
To support the Share4Mama Salone Ambassadors with relevant and up to date information, WhatsApp and Facebook platforms have been formed, where influencers can access, share and verify information with their audiences.