YOUTH-LED ACTIONS IN TIMES OF COVID-19
IMAGINATION, HOPE AND COURAGE. ALL KEYWORDS FOR HOW YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR NETWORK ARE BATTLING THE UNEQUALLY DISTRIBUTED CONSEQUENCES OF THE CORONA PANDEMIC.
All across the world the current pandemic has had devastating effects, especially on the lives and livelihoods of already marginalised groups. But what we have also seen in these times of unprecedented circumstances, is that young people can provide exactly the imagination and hope that the world needs. By confronting fear with courage, they are bringing new inspiration to all of the people that are longing for more justice in their communities.
Below are some examples of how young people in our network are battling the unequally distributed consequences of the corona pandemic. Seeing this ingenuity, resilience, commitment and solidarity at community level across continents suggests that hope is never far away. Hope has the power to unite us and we need to keep it alive to create a better world.
FIGHTING CORONA WITH WATER AND SOAP
In Bangladesh young activist where quick to develop DYI-solutions for slum communities rather than waiting for official institutions to respond to the crisis. By recycling used soda bottles and turning them into makeshift handwashers, they have provided small scale infrastructure to prevent the virus from spreading disproportionately in poverty-stricken areas. And by documenting and sharing their actions and ideas through simple mobile phone videos on social media, they are inspiring peers around the world.
In Zambia young poets are asking uncomfortable questions: If I stay home, how will I survive? What happened to transparency? As relief funds are flowing into the country to cushion the consequences of the unfolding crisis; who is held to account for the spending, when young people are cut off from participating and why does the paperwork never work for young people?
AWARENESS THROUGH ART
In Kenya youth- and women groups from informal settlements are combining their effort to increase the public awareness about the coronavirus through graffiti and spoken word. And apart from delivering timely information through creative expressions, some of the young people have started to produce their own face-masks that are crowdfunded and then distributed throughout a slum area called Mukuru.
In Palestine young people have played a pivotal role in the preparation and distribution of hygiene-kits that ActionAid have been distributing in Hebron and Bethlehem. Containing soap and disinfectants, the kits are aimed at breaking the chains of contagion in the very densely populated areas that are at high risk of becoming a hotbed for the virus.
In Zimbabwe the Global Platform has initiated the podcast The C-19 Show specifically dedicated to bringing out different perspectives that are relevant for young people in order to understand the current situation and be able to act accordingly. In the podcasts you can meet experts discussing how the corona virus has affected education and what role gender responsive public services can play in times of corona.
CREATING NEW SOLIDARITY NETWORKS
In Guatemala there has been a sharp decline in remittances, which constitutes the main income for thousands of families across the migratory region of Central America. The outbreak and the subsequent dramatic spike of unemployment in the US combined with the national lockdown have wiped out much of the informal economy that almost 70% of the population in Guatemala depend on. But to prevent hunger from becoming a deathly side-effect of the pandemic, young people are starting to organise solidarity networks. One of them is Immediate Solidarity Network or RESI, that is crowdfunding to provide fresh food for the families that are hit the hardest by the lockdown.
RAPPING ABOUT THE RAMIFICATIONS OF A LOCKDOWN
Throughout MesoAmerica young rappers connected to El Lab, a Salvadorian youth hub for activism and music, have started reporting from their lockdown. As much of Latin America started closing down public space and descended military into the streets, it has meant moving both music and activism indoors. But if we can create music together, even when separated by curfews and closed borders, there is surely still hope.