International COVID-19 Grant

Zambian United Methodist Women Set Up Handwashing Stations

Zambian United Methodist Women Set Up Handwashing Stations
Josephine Nama Mbilishi prepares handwashing stations.

To provide a positive and meaningful contribution in the fight against COVID-19, the United Methodist Women in Zambia, always on the frontline of reaching out to our community, has served the most vulnerable among us by providing handwashing stations and education. Through United Methodist Women’s emergency grant, we have strengthened our capacity to respond in an effort to handle future outbreaks.

The United Methodist Women of Zambia have purchased buckets, sanitizers and soap and set up handwashing stations in markets, bus stations, community health centers and government clinics in Kitwe and Ndola towns.

Officially launched in July 2020 with the help of the United Methodist dean, Rev. Kenneth Kalichi, we selected the primary location for the handwashing stations as the marketplace, deemed the best avenue to reach women from vulnerable communities. Here, women who are the sole bread winners for their families are found selling handmade products. These markets are high contagion centers due to congestion and an inability to socially distance. We have made donations of buckets, sanitizers, soap and masks in these outposts and even some government clinics where services for children under five years old are provided. These public clinics, we found, are the best places to educate the women, youth and children who are most vulnerable to the disease.

We also set up wash stations at public bus stations where we find a lot of youths working as call boys, and women and girls working as food vendors to travelers. Some United Methodist churches were also given buckets, sanitizers and soap. In particular, children have embraced the idea of handwashing at the many locations as they like to play with water, which is indirectly a good thing.

Working Within the Community

By engaging community health workers, youth communicators, peer educators, community caregivers and volunteers, our aid groups have reached targeted groups with whom we work very well. For example, the community health workers shared information with mothers at the under-fives and natal clinics. The peer educators and youth communicators were involved in educating women, youth and men at the marketplaces and public bus stations. Caregivers continued to share information within their communities.

The project has made a great impact. Communities have been empowered with information on how to live clean and healthy lives, making a difference in the fight to end poverty at a household level. Healthy women can continue with daily income-generating activities. Families have learned the importance of handwashing and hygiene as part of disease prevention. Since the project’s inception, mask wearing has increased by 60 percent. 

As a global problem, the pandemic has devastated so many countries and communities around the world. With no vaccine to cure this disease, the best hope, at this time, is to emphasize proper hygiene practices as recommended by the World Health Organization. In addition to handwashing, wearing masks and personal prevention equipment, our church women leaders encourage social distancing, thus preventing the spread of the virus and saving lives.

The emergency COVID-19 grants to long-time international mission partners were made possible by the generous financial gifts from United Methodist Women.

Josephine Nama Mbilishi is the Zambia Annual Conference Women’s Work Coordinator.

 

Posted or updated: 10/23/2020 12:00:00 AM