Bipin Kumar Shrestha, Progam Officer, ECCA
On 44th day of lockdown, I was watching corona virus related news in the morning as usual. Television, radio, Facebook and every social media had COVID-19 on its headlines. The number of infected and death was rapidly increasing day by day. This news was distressing. On top of it, I was equally sad for not being able to go to my work station in Chitwan.
Within one week of lockdown in Nepal (which started on March 24), ECCA team had already made several plans for organizing COVID-19 prevention themed awareness programs in the Chepang community, ward no. 13, Rapti Municipality, Chitwan, Nepal. Continuous rainfall, storms, landslides, transportation and communication issues, shortage of food and above all, the probable infection and lockdown itself have been the major challenges for organizing the activities. I kept thinking about these issues when Field Assistant Resham Chepang called and informed me that women groups are conducting clean up and door-to-door visit awareness programs in the community by focusing on importance of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), waste segregation, safe drinking water as well as hand washing techniques during the current health crisis.
Although there was some difficulty in the initial stage to bring the focus of Chepang community on health and sanitation behavioral change, they are now showing relatively more attention on hygiene and sanitation.
In the same context, I started thinking on how Ms. Rina Chepang, secretary of one of the women groups in Gundi, had shared the changes brought by the project on the understanding among the local women and community with the establishment of the group. Group members, who previously believed that the group was formed only for saving credit purpose, have now started to understand that their group can also contribute towards social changes when they are united and work together. And hence, the women groups are now more committed to take actions to protect their families and village against COVID-19. “It would be great if we are provided with relevant pamphlets, posters and other information materials for better effectiveness”, said one of the women group members.
Resham Chepang, ECCA field staff, is himself a member of the Chepang community. He heartily thanked ECCA and the supporting agencies for bringing changes in the Chepang schools, communities, villages and individuals when I was taking the update by mobile phone. He shared that he would provide the program photos soon after reaching Bhandara (located in the south plain area, where there is internet connection) and he did. Since then, I have been consulting with my seniors and fellow field staffs for further improvement in conducting COVID-19 related awareness program.
Finally, I salute Chepang women groups for their selfless action against COVID-19 during this global health crisis. They are the great hope of Chepang community!