Campaign registers Palestinian refugee camp residents for vaccination
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are all connected. The wellness of the individual means the wellness of their community, and vice versa.
The Community-Based Hygiene Promotion Project funded by UNICEF and implemented by Anera and our local partners is focused on addressing the COVID crisis in Lebanon, specifically in Palestinian refugee communities. The task is much easier said than done due to the many structural challenges, like overcrowding and limited access to clean water and sanitation in the camps, as well as widespread hesitancy towards the recommended precautionary measures and vaccination. However, Anera’s youth-led public health team has done its best to overcome the challenges!
To help safeguard the people we serve, the team designed a series of activities and published informational materials, both online and offline, to increase community awareness about the path to preventing infection. We used social media and WhatsApp to disseminate health and safety messages.
And we enlisted professionals with a range of skills in the effort, including illustrators, designers, filmmakers, social workers, community leaders and small business owners.
Aya Hawarneh is Anera’s field coordinator on the campaign. She says,
“The difficulty we faced during this awareness campaign was to convince people that the vaccine is our only choice, and training them on how to identify fake news and only share information from trusted sources.”
The project team and the volunteers conducted door-to-door visits to help community members become better informed about the vaccine and to assist them in registering online via the Ministry of Public Health’s platform.
Some of the community members we spoke to recently reflect both the skepticism and the impact of our team’s efforts.
“Now that I’ve learned about it, I’m more convinced than ever that mass vaccination is the only way to stop this pandemic. And I urge everyone to register for the vaccine now,” says community member Fathi from Beddawi camp in North Lebanon.
“Mass vaccination is the only way to stop this pandemic.”
Sleiman, a resident of Nahr El Bared Camp, says,
“I was skeptical at first. The potential side effects have scared me, and all the fake news didn’t help. What changed my mind was learning that this vaccine was like all of the vaccines we took before. I urge everyone to register for the vaccine, and to trust the scientists and doctors who have done lots of research and testing before making the vaccine available to the public.”
We are all in this together. Collaboration is an essential part of the project. With the guidance of the UNICEF Palestinian program team, the initiative of Anera’s program team, and the willpower and hard work of our local partners and volunteers, we have registered more than 11,000 people to receive the vaccine.
"I urge everyone to register for the vaccine, and to trust the scientists and doctors who have done lots of research and testing before making the vaccine available to the public.””
Mariam Issa, project coordinator Burj El Barajneh coordinator at WPA, says,
“Local NGOs play a crucial role in raising awareness about the vaccine and refuting the fake news surrounding it. They are trusted by the refugees, especially the elderly, who are the most difficult group of people to persuade.”
The project volunteers set up informational booths across the country and took turns conducting rapid awareness sessions and distributing informational material.
Layal Sarawan, the coordinator for Ahlam Lagea Association at Mar Elias Camp, says,
“The awareness campaigns targeted busy streets, public places, health care institutions and schools… where we handed out flyers, booklets and put up banners promoting vaccination safety.”
Ahmad Abed El-Azziz, a volunteer with our Solidarity NGO at Nahr El Bared Camp, says,
“Youth are the living soul of the society. We can help spread awareness about the COVID-19 virus. We are role models and we must lead by example.”
Ahmad Al Khatib, a volunteer with WPA in Ein el Helwe camp says,
“I truly believe that our initiatives have a major positive impact on our communities, who we know and understand.”
These youth volunteers have helped more than 11,000 people register online to receive the vaccine. And just as important, they learned how to navigate a serious public health crisis while safeguarding their communities.
This project was funded by France in 2021.