Highlight:
The outbreak of COVID-19 has not only caused a health and humanitarian crisis but has also sent the world into an economic shock. The pandemic has left communities across the country reeling, and young people including our staff, volunteers, partners, and the community whom we work with have placed themselves firmly at the forefront to respond to the crisis.

This crisis has redefined the traditional approach of visiting the field as movements are restricted due to nationwide lockdown. With physical visits and contacts no longer possible, a virtual connection has become a crucial means to keeping in touch with the communities to understand their concerns, needs, and most importantly impart right and verified information especially during this time of uncertainty.

Staying connected virtually:
With the new development of the situation each day, we are exploring ways to provide accurate up-to-date information to the community volunteers who are at the forefront of COVID response. We have started a virtual training course since April 27, 2020, to create a uniform understanding among community volunteers to raise awareness around hygiene management, dos and don’ts and other containment measures to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

So far, we have completed 6 sessions with 189 participants from Assam, Odisha, and Delhi. The training modules consist of Communication for Response & Containment Measures, Prevention: Safe practices in the Community, Community Surveillance, Supportive Public Health Services, Stigma & Discrimination, and Communication & Personal Safety.

The sessions were well planned to avoid repetition and ensure that the volunteers gain new and valuable information as the sessions progress. For the training, we referred to the existing modules from COVID-19 Book of Five and COVID Warrior Training Manual, developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India with additional inputs from the COVID Academy courses. The modules were adjusted as per the relevance and requirements to meet the specific needs at the community level.

Additionally, IGSSS remains connected with the community through community WhatsApp groups to disseminate verified information and government advisories relating to COVID.

Reflection: The need for a smart strategy
The sessions have helped us to reflect on the need for a strong strategy to sustain a sense of group cohesiveness and their interest in virtual training.  Considering the sudden rise of virtual meetings and training, the sessions were adequately planned in order not to create virtual fatigue and not cause additional tension and anxiety among the communities.  

A valuable feedforward came from one of the participants, Krishna Kamal Dutta from Assam stating “It’s good to arrange such training sessions, the timing schedule is also fine with us, looking forward to more of such training session”. 

FAQ:
The following are some of the questions frequently asked by the community volunteers during the training.

  1. If many people are using a single soap, can from this particular soap Coronavirus transmitted?
  2. In this situation can we bath in a common pond or not?
  3. Can boiled water and garlic be the remedy for Corona?
  4. What are the necessary measures that need to be taken while interacting with a person coming from the Red Zone area to the Green zone recently?
  5. Are the soaps kept in public places are safe enough to wash hands during this period?
  6. What impact it has on pregnant Woman?
  7. What precautions should be taken by the person recovering from COVID19?
  8. How reliable is the Aarogya Setu app?

Challenges Faced: 

  • Poor Internet connectivity creates frequent interruption.
  • Some participants were unable to adjust their audio and video settings.
  • The session needs to restart every 45 minutes.
  • Given the current scenario, the volunteers after exhausting their internet data were unable to recharge the data pack.

 

Contributed by: Milan Mandanna
Edited by: Regina Hoineilam