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Children love to learn. If they are denied access to knowledge, we also deny them the opportunity to change their lives for the better.

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Small Steps Save Lives: Awareness Campaign on COVID-19 in Palestine

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On the 7th of March, President Mahmoud Abbas announced a month-long State of Emergency in Palestine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consequently, schools and universities closed impacting 1.3 million students, who join an estimated 1.4 billion learners locked out of school around the world, according to UNESCO. While students and alumni of the Al Fakhoora Scholarship and Empowerment Programme usually work with children and adolescents in many schools throughout Gaza, developing their leadership skills, the shutdown of schools reflected a unique challenge.  Like so many young people around the world right now, these inspirational leaders were not deterred. 

Equipped with hygiene and educational materials and their passion to engage with the community, groups of Al Fakhoora students from different universities with medical specialities developed a plan to deploy throughout Gaza. Their goal was simple: help the community learn the best preventative techniques to avoid spreading COVID-19. They engaged with the public in markets, parks, beach cafeterias and shops, as well as connecting with passers-by in the Gaza Strip. They delivered short talks aimed at advising individuals on how to maintain ‘social distancing’ by keeping space between each other; best hand washing techniques and practices; how to politely avoid shaking hands and other cultural practices like hugs; and generally communicating about staying away from gatherings to minimize the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

"We have assembled, proactively, to support our community in Gaza to avoid the Corona outbreak. There is no place for fear now, we cannot just sit by terrified waiting for Corona to hit Gaza. Along with my Al Fakhoora Fellows in medicine, nursing and paramedics, we have launched a campaign to raise awareness in our community about the preventative techniques that can be used to avoid COVID-19 infection and spread. Although our efforts may seem limited, we do believe that more hands are needed to save our future," said Ahmad Al Sahar, 6th year medical student, Islamic University, Gaza.

Nadeen Shaath, Al Fakhoora Alumni specializing in medical laboratories, described the initiative as a "…social responsibility to spread awareness of the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) among the people of Gaza and beyond. I have started to record short videos, giving practical guidelines regarding the ‘right practices’ of washing hands, which could be even more effective than using anti-bacterial gel. This is an easy thing can be done regularly to avoid infection after touching any surface. It's not about buying expensive materials, but about changing the daily culture of hygiene…"

Actively guiding children, teaching them with simple words, Abduallah AbuNamoos, a nursing student, stated, "…targeting children is at the heart of our campaign. Working with children is very sensitive. It is about good communication, rather than simplifying the story about the Corona outbreak. With the information we provide, we aim to decrease fears and promote positivity and hope. COVID-19 is a virus that everyone needs to avoid, not only because it can be fatal, but also due to its serious impact on health services. Our approach is to encourage taking hygiene practices more seriously."

Sami Naem, a fifth-year medical student who actively organized the campaign, concluded that, "…this comes as a part of our effort to give back to our communities. As Al Fakhoora students we know we must do more while staying as safe as possible. Even while at home, we will utilize social platforms to spread awareness and fight the virus. I find it a blessing to be going through my educational journey as an Al Fakhoora student. Being empowered with knowledge and skills allows us to contribute and help people in need. I wish I could contribute to the research to find a solution to this. Still, as Al Fakhoora students, we will continue to give as best as we can."

Impact

"Humanity will not overcome the immense challenges we face unless we ensure that children get the quality education that equips them to play their part in the modern world." -- HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser

Surpassing

12.8 million

enrolment commitments for OOSC

9,099

Scholarships

89.5%

retention rate

395,558

Teachers trained

45,000

schools and classrooms