Jean-Paul Kayiranga has been a vital part of MC-Rwanda's Youth Program since 2010. His involvement in the program has prepared him with the skills needed to act as a front line responder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the coronavirus first appeared in Bugesera District, Jean-Paul responded by collaborating with other young people in his community to protect those most at risk. Jean-Paul's team consists of ten youth volunteers who build handwashing stations for households in their community to reduce the spread of the virus. Sanitation continues to be one of the leading factors contributing to the spread of the virus in the Kayenzi area. W.A.S.H (water, sanitation, and hygiene) stations function as sinks in rural areas that have limited access to running water. Stations are equipped with soap and enable easy handwashing with a free-standing jug that distributes water over dirty hands. More than twelve families were equipped with W.A.S.H. stations before the lockdown. Research has shown that washing hands for more than 20 seconds is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus.
In addition to developing W.A.S.H stations, the team of youth volunteers shared health tips by doing door-to-door visits to community members. All of the home visits were performed wearing masks and at a safe distance. Misinformation about the virus continues to be widespread in Rwanda.
Jean-Paul states, "Most of the people in my village have this perception that the coronavirus does not affect teenagers or Black people, but we already hear cases of those affected; therefore, we have to focus on sharing accurate information and better sanitation."
Jean-Paul's community leadership has been praised locally. He was selected to assist his community's social protection plan implemented by Rwanda Local Governance - following the President's directive to support the most vulnerable in communities by aiming to limit the spread of the coronavirus.