Unsung pandemic heroes

It’s a sense that one has to do the right thing. Others see it as an obligation. There are others for whom it is a requirement.

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The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic two years ago. No one knew what was ahead. Over the next 24 months, however, remarkable women and men rose to the occasion to serve their communities.

They are not always easy to recognize. These heroes’ actions have made the world safer and more peaceful. We are proud to present you with just a handful of these extraordinary people.

A Ugandan nurse uses a megaphone in order to motivate her community to get immunized

Judith Candiru admired nurses

White uniforms as a child. It was symbolic of the care they provided, she said. She is now one of them. She is proud to wear that sharp uniform with a yellow belt.

Candiru has experienced COVID-19 firsthand. She was infected once and remembers the stigma her family and friends were subject to at that time.

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“This was my most difficult moment in my career. My family and I were ignored by the community.”

She didn’t let it stop her. She was able to recover and get back to work. Candiru is passionate about serving the Yumbe District, northern Uganda, that straddles the border to South Sudan.

She gets up in the morning to go to the maternity unit where she takes care of premature babies. She’s been trained by WE to care for sick babies and make sure they thrive.

That’s only a part of her day. After finishing her rounds at the ward and completing consultations, she will head out on foot or on a motorbike into the community to help with the pandemic.

Candiru, equipped with a megaphone has been spreading the message that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe. Her message resonated. Trust is evident among the members of the community as they each sit down on benches and wait to receive their shots from Candiru.

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With her vaccines, she climbs mountains and crosses canyons in Nepal.

Birma Kunwar has been climbing mountains and crossing suspended footbridges for many years. She climbs hills in remote Nepal’s west with a box of vaccinations on her back.

Kunwar collected lifesaving vaccines even before the COVID-19 epidemic. She did so in Khalanga District, the headquarters of Darchula District. These doses were used primarily for routine immunizations of children who lived in the villages nestled on the hillside Kunwar climbs.

The pandemic presented a new challenge as well as a new opportunity. “I’ve been following the same path, but with these new vaccinations,” she said.

The destination of her journey is Duhun’s health post. It is only accessible by foot at certain times of the year.

Kunwar notes that roads in the area are not reliable for many months, especially during monsoons. She also explains the dangers posed landslides pose. It’s dangerous.

She often walks the whole stretch carrying the burden of the community’s health. It takes three to four hours. Kunwar says that the journey is worth it. Kunwar considers it a privilege to deliver vital vaccines to these communities.

“People eagerly wait for vaccines. They ask me all the time when they will arrive, how soon they can get them, and when their turn will come. Every day.

This is the teenage inventor whose invention makes handwashing safer

Emmanuel Cosmos Msoka, an activist and innovator, is Emmanuel Cosmos Msoka. It is no accident that the 18-year old from Tanzania created a vital hygiene tool that had a water theme during the pandemic.

He says, “I was born at Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.” My country is the only one where water can turn to snow and ice.

Emmanuel grew-up with a passion to improve society and change how things are done. He has achieved this. He stepped in when COVID-19 arrived to Tanzania, and his community was struggling to fight the disease.

He came up with the idea of a handwashing device that relies on foot pedals for its function. This reduces the risk of the virus spreading. He has been able supply more than 400 handwashing stations in northern Tanzania since he invented the technology.

Emmanuel was named WE Youth Advocate for his efforts and nominated to the International Children’s Peace Prize. This prize is awarded each year to a child who makes a significant contribution in advocating for children’s human rights.

While caring for her siblings, she also studies during times of loss.

Keysha is fourteen years old. Her wisdom and insight are beyond her years. She has had to learn quickly. Her mother, who was a waitress, died from COVID-19.

Keysha states that Keysha’s mother worked 12-hour shifts when the restaurant opened again. “Her immune system was weak and that’s probably why she got COVID.”

Keysha now has to care for her younger siblings and takes on more responsibility. Afiqa, her 7-year old sister, has been especially affected by Keysha’s care. Afiqa often goes to her bedroom after school and watches family videos while listening to her mother’s voice.

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Keysha, in addition to caring for her father, is also aware of his financial difficulties as sole breadwinner. He is a parking attendant at the same restaurant that his late wife worked. Keysha plans to enroll at a vocational school to be able to find a faster job and help her father.