Discovered late last year in Wuhan china, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the world by storm. Since then, the coronavirus has not only adversely affected the global community in matters of health but also, in terms of international trade, macroeconomic indicators, and financial markets. Governments, businesses and families are responding to the pandemic in unprecedented ways that have massively disrupted life as we know it; from guidelines on social distancing and and regular hand washing, the fear of contracting the virus has driven people into buying out sanitizers, gloves, face masks, canned food and toilet paper in an attempt to keep the virus at bay.
Despite the panic frenzy being felt across the globe, all over the world, a different breed of superheroes is rising up to the occasion. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have stood on the forefront of this global war. This valor has extended to other members of the public who are risking their lives to slow the spread of the virus.
In Kenya, Mombasa county, a team of 42 changemakers, from the Swahilipot Hub and Mombasa Red cross, are putting their lives at risk in efforts to lower infection at the Likoni ferry.
Why the Ferries?
The likoni ferry is a ferry service across the Kilindini harbor in Mombasa. It connects the island side of Mombasa to the mainland. Several ferries alternate across the harbor, carrying both road and foot traffic.
About 300,000 pedestrians and more than 6,000 motorists use the ferries daily to cross the channel; poor crowd management which has previously resulted in stampedes, overloading and frequent stalling of the vessels, has made crossing the Likoni channel and arriving safely at the other side a somewhat Miracle. The coronavirus has now made this risk even greater.
“Due to the massive congestion of people at the ferry docks and in the ferry, the likelihood of accelerated infection among the commuters is very high,” Mahmood Noor, who is leading the team, cites this as the main reason they decided to focus on the area.
Moreover, due to the great risk posed by the channel, they could not sit and wait for government intervention. Paul Tito, one of the volunteers from Swahilipot Hub describes the Ferry channel as a ‘ticking time bomb’ and emphasizes on the necessity of putting up preventative measures before the situation is out of hand.
Soap and running tap water
With the help of several Mombasa businessmen and other well wishers, the team has been able to set up over 30 hand washing stations at the docks. They have also received donations from soap businesses of women and young men making soap on the coast which has come in handy in carrying out the sanitizing exercise.
The team has also done a great job with crowd control by organizing the commuters into single files maintaining 1 meter distance per commuter. They have split the team up between the two ferry points to make sure order is observed on both ends.
Despite using the loud speakers to organize the crowds, the team is also educating the commuters on the facts about the virus; how it is spread, symptoms and health risks and how to prevent infection.
To amplify their efforts, the national youth service(NYS) has been working closely with the team in enforcing these preventative measures as some members of the public, despite knowing about the virus and the risks it poses, are still reluctant in participating in the sanitation process.
The biggest challenge the team is facing at the moment is getting additional supplies to keep the facilitators safe, this includes masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. However, the government and other organizations are also stepping in to help mitigate some of the issues.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”Nelson Mandela
The acts of these 42 heroes and all the others across the globe, will continue to inspire us as human beings to conquer fear and stand together to survive this storm.
A look at the transformation work our changemakers are doing…