A Bird’s Eye View
Resilience and creativity thrive in situations of uncertainty. Instead of turning away from the problems Covid-19 has caused, many have turned these challenges into solutions. Perhaps one of the most unexpected outcomes of this is that the crisis has so far created a wave of solidarity, enabling communities to pull together (even when physically separated) and causing entrepreneurs to develop people centred solutions with many platforms offering free programs to support these initiatives.
The entrepreneurs in the Bridge community have been no exception. When we asked our entrepreneurs to share what they’ve been doing in response to Covid-19 we were blown away by what they told us. And, we decided we had to share their solutions with you. Below we take a look at the highlights of some of their projects.
Ambre Curetti – A Venture to Strengthen Communities
Ambre joined Bridge through our ‘The Leap – Solutions for Humanity’ program when she had the idea for The Covid-19 Community Challenge:
‘I am an Italian expat living in Switzerland. When I started to hear the alarming news coming from Italy, I got involved and started to look into ways I could help my local community.
With the heavy restrictions in place, people found themselves isolated and worried about how to find basic supplies. Small shops were suddenly shut down but they responded promptly and generously by activating home delivery services.
That’s when I first got the idea of creating a platform where people and small businesses could connect.’
‘The COVID-19 Community Challenge empowers leaders around the world to create online marketplaces that connect people with active services they can benefit from while staying at home, such as food deliveries, virtual childcare, elderly support and other forms of mutual help or solidarity.’
‘I am hoping that implementing these platforms in more communities will ease the discomforts brought by the outbreak and will allow people to access all the basic supplies and services they need without leaving their homes. At this stage the goal is to multiply the impact on a global scale, by finding motivated change-makers that are willing to lead a local project in their own community. I will share my experience, resources and support to help them launch their project so together we can reach more people in the world.’
Marta Michans and Vanesa Ortega – A Mental Health Tool
‘After experiencing the effects of confinement, we decided to do something. Vanesa, who lives with anxiety and depression disorder, and has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, thought that creating some kind of material would help people in the same situation.’
‘This initiative (materials for self-care during the quarentine) was made by PerspectivaMente, a project of Asociación por la Innovación en Salud Mental y Educación. Another project of our organization is Merakimú, through which we’ve organized the stories & connection call.
We’ve been organizing online webinars and calls, for families and individuals. Vanesa conducted a webinar on implementing routines and I conducted a call to create connection through stories. All in all, we are trying to give the solutions to the challenges that we face: isolation and lack of organization.’
‘We believe that, by providing human connection, self-care and mental health managing tools, we can improve people’s well being and make these days at home a better experience for all. Our focus, with PerspectivaMente, is that of providing mental health tools for families, professionals and adults.’
Ebrima Jatta – Hand Washing Service in Low Income Communities in Gambia
Ebrima has developed a service with his venture Gambia Innovation Centre, to help those who are unable to access very necessary hand washing facilities in Gambia during the Covid-19 outbreak:
Gambia is an undeveloped country and 95% of the population live on less than a dollar a day. So many communities are exposed to diseases and have many health concerns. Gambia Innovation Center looks for preventive measures before Covid-19 and such diseases come into effect. Considering the level of poverty in Gambia many could not afford to build such a hand washing device device so they opt for a tap and bucket to protect themselves.
We give them a free hand washing solution to pump with their foot. The device has been well appreciated and welcome by the entire Gambia, including Government and private sectors. Currently we work for 18hrs to make sure these devices are available as the government are currently demanding thousands.
The device is sustainable and simple to use. Communities understand how to using their foot prevents disease exposure through direct contact with their hands. On the other hand, some communities find it very difficult to access clean drinking water so this devices solve that problem as each device carries 1000 to 2000 litters of water which could serve at least 10 communities in the same area.
Our aim is to make life easy and simple for the communities in Gambia and transform their conditions. We also have other inspiring projects to help our communities, including digital legacy for youths and elderly individuals, a death support program, National education aid program and other water and sanitation programs.
Afia Bobia Amanfo – Solutions through Creative Writing
Afia, from the Bridge team, has launched a writing competition for students in Ghana:
‘I’ve always wanted to launch a writing competition for students in Ghana. I believe there’s not enough encouragement in our society to help students build their creativity and I want to champion this cause. But I have been waiting for the perfect time, perfect prizes, perfect partners…until now.
As COVID-19 spreads through Africa, some regions of Ghana have also been out under temporary lockdown and all schools have been closed. I understand very well how frustrating it can be for students to be home with not much to engage them. Internet access is a bit expensive so there’s a limit to what they can do online and the whole atmosphere now is quite bleak just like everywhere else in the world. This is what pushed me to stop waiting and just launch the challenge – the chance to help students make creative use of this time and create solutions in their own way.’
‘The Covid-19 Writing Challenge focuses on creative writing – not essays. So I believe it will give students a way to express the frustrations and challenges of the COVID 19 crises in their own words and with their own thoughts. It will also help them use the time they have now creatively and develop those writing skills which is often so undermined in our society. Writing for me has always been a way to imagine a better world and we need that kind of positive thinking now more than ever. The stories we receive will inspire an entire country.’
‘I hope students who take part in this challenge will go on to write more stories and tell the African stories we keep to ourselves. I hope others will be inspired to create a solution for challenges that society faces in their own way and with their skills.’
Peter is working with CSAID to bring awareness about Covid-19 to low income communities in Liberia:
‘I observed that the global outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied with a wave of infodemic propagating different messages about the virus. Most of the information in circulation has the propensity to create a culture of complacency or cause further panic and heart attack if they are not well filtered and communicated more professionally. To this end, the Community Solutions Aid decided to work in collaboration with the DELTA Human Rights Foundation to help propagate the right information about the virus through a Poster Campaign to assist those unable to access information independently get the right message of COVID—19.’
‘We hope that the project will reach out to more isolated communities, dispel the myth about the virus and propagate the right information among community dwellers and enable them follow the preventive protocols recommended by the World Health Organization.’
Pedro Tomás Esteve and Montse Esteve Capdevila – Fem Llitera: supporting communities in rural areas
‘The project arises from the impact on the rural areas of the social distancing policies adopted by the government. In our villages, the elderly usually live on their own, relying on family and friends to bring their shopping home regularly. After these measures, these people may lose access to this social support. Moreover, the current situation puts them at risk of social isolation.’
‘The project is providing basic food, hygiene and health supplies. A team of volunteers, coordinated from the town hall in collaboration with Fem Llitera, is in charge of doing the home shopping so the elderly and other people at risk don’t have to be exposed to the virus. We have also a hotline to listen to their demands and provide company, mitigating the effects of social isolation.’
‘The best impact indicator will be that there is not a single case of Covid-19 in the territory of Peralta de Calasanz (Huesca, Spain), which is our main area of activity. We hope to develop a stronger sense of community, encouraging the emergence of relationships between the team of volunteers and the elderly that go beyond this crisis.’