Rwanda youths inaugurate army of volunteers to enforce social distancing at markets, other public places
London, May 17, 2020 (AltAfrica)-An army of youth volunteers have joined Rwanda National Police in encouraging the public to obey the major rules aimed at curtailing the spread of coronavirus in the country
Clad in luminous green jackets, the youth volunteers are stationed at various urban centres especially in areas where there is a large concentration of people, in places such as bus stations, parks, markets, road intersections, trading centres among others.
Since COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, Rwanda has put forward precautionary measures to contain coronavirus.
The public has been since urged to comply with the measures: physical distancing, wearing face masks and washing or sanitizing hands.
Expectedly, some members of the public needed reinforcement to observe the measures, especially after the government decided to open almost all sectors of the economy.
Pacific Mapendo is one of the 800 volunteers operating in Kigali and many more in all 30 districts.
She works the morning shift from 8 am to 2 pm. She expects no personal reward but understands the need for people to follow and respect COVID-19 preventive measures.
“I did not volunteer for this because it is easy or rewarding. I simply think the country needs everyone, especially youth, to step into the fight against COVID-19,” she told The New Times.
Mapendo is stationed in Downtown Bus Station. Her job is to remind people to properly wear face masks, wash or sanitize their hands and keep the required one-meter distance.
Nearby where she stands is a policeman who assists Mapendo to spot those who try to ignore or disobey the rules.
Fils Kwizera is a university student who volunteers at Remera Bus Park.
He works from 2 pm to 7 pm. When the pandemic broke out and schools closed along with all other social and entertainment gatherings, he decided to lend his hand in stopping it.
“I could see the police and local leaders having a hard time convincing people to comply with the measures. I knew if the public is not involved it would not end and I would not play football or go back to school any sooner,” he explained.
Kwizera says he draws more encouragement from people getting to understand the reasoning behind these measures and getting to comply even where there is no supervision.
He said that he pegs his hope of ever going back to school on people understanding the measures in place to fight the virus to ensure it is uprooted.
“I will do all I can to see COVID-19 end,” he says.
Also, members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) have started mass awareness campaign to influence positive behaviours and actions against novel Coronavirus pandemic.
The awareness activities, according to RYVCP leadership, were initiated to supplement the government efforts and Rwanda National Police (RNP) in particular, to fight and prevent the spread of Coronavirus especially in business centres like markets and trading centres.
Valerie Muhorakeye, who commutes to work every day using public transport appreciates what is being done by the volunteers and says “it is worth it”.
Speaking to The New Times, Abdallah Murenzi, the head of the Youth Volunteers on national level said that the work is entirely on voluntary basis.
Any youth who is willing can join.
“The volunteers are not necessarily unemployed, some even have jobs but they still make time to do voluntary work in service of their country,” he said.
He added that when they were employed in March, their responsibilities were to encourage people in public places to keep physical distance, wash hands and wear face masks.
“So far we are impressed by how effective their work is. The public is complying with the measure and we can say that the curve is flattening,” he explained.
Youth Volunteers work in partnership with the City of Kigali and Rwanda National Police.
The programme was founded in 2013 with the aim to engage the youth in the fight against corruption and other vices like drugs.
Currently, the programme has over 38,000 members around the country