Young students who helped create awareness on COVID-19 among thousands of daily wagers and slum-dwellers in the city earned the apprecation of UNICEF-Hyderabad for their efforts.
The students demonstrated the proper use of hand sanitizer, use of masks, and the need to observe social distancing as part of the project on ‘Engagement of NSS Volunteers for Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) in Visakhapatnam’. The students also distributed posters and pamphlets among the target groups to spread the message. The NSS Cell of Andhra University entered into an MoU with UNICEF-Hyderabad in July 2020 in this regard.
The students were picked from five active NSS units of Dr. VS Krishna Government College, GVP College, Samata College, St. Joseph’s College for Women and St. Ann’s Degree College for Women. Twenty-four best NSS volunteers from each of the five units were engaged in the project.
NSS programme officers and volunteers were trained through video-conference meetings by UNICEF.
“Each of the five programme officers conducted 12 orientation classes for the key stakeholders which helped them complete their work. The students (NSS volunteers) have almost completed the tasks assigned to them, with a few volunteers scheduled to finish the tasks assigned to them by the end of this month,” said Dr. S. Haranath, NSS programme coordinator of Andhra University.
The students helped create awareness among 25,000 people, who were mostly slum dwellers and daily wage workers. They impressed upon them the need to adopt personal hygiene, maintain social distancing and wear masks to check the spread of COVID-19.
“This is no small achievement as they spread the message when the pandemic was at its peak. In all, 120 NSS volunteers from five colleges visited 45 slums, covering 6,500 houses and interacting with 25,000 people, and an additional 35 work sites, educating over 2,000 workers, representing different professions, so far,” Dr. Haranath added.
The target groups were people living in urban slums, especially elderly persons, pregnant women, children and occupational groups such as sanitation workers, petty vendors, construction labourers and migrant workers, in select areas of the city.
“UNICEF-Hyderabad identified the NSS volunteers’ participation through social media and their active engagement in making short videos/demonstration videos on precautions and best practices to prevent COVID-19 in the community during the lockdown from March to June. The NSS Cell of Andhra University also shared the information with UNICEF on NSS programme officers and NSS volunteers role in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts,” Dr. Haranath said.