Even when we have to keep our distance, people around the world are coming together like never before to help their communities face the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. We’re not public health experts, but we wanted to share some new ideas that have already been put into practice in an effort to fight the virus and mitigate the social impact of the pandemic. Here are a few standout examples from Armenia that can serve as inspiration for civic initiatives elsewhere. In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be sharing more exciting projects from other countries. Read in Russian here.
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We’ll publish the most creative and inspiring civic responses to the global pandemic.
The energy, enthusiasm, and fresh approaches of Armenia’s independent student and youth organisations have formed the backbone of the country’s civic response to the coronavirus pandemic. In just four days, Armenian Progressive Youth (APY) mobilised its members and supporters to collect 2,500 euros in small, individual donations that they used to buy food and supplies for the elderly. Nearly 600 volunteers across Armenia have come together to fundraise and purchase and deliver supplies for around 100 seniors. APY plans to ramp up its efforts by soliciting donations from businesses with the aim of supporting 2,000 seniors and other vulnerable people. AYO, a fundraising platform created to help make the philanthropic ideas of young Armenians a reality, has thrown all of its weight behind its Covid-19 Emergency Campaign to help vulnerable groups, and has already raised nearly 28,000 USD.
While the immediate threat of Covid-19 is to physical health, the global pandemic also presents a mental health challenge. A group of women psychologists in Yerevan have launched a series of free Facebook Live lectures on psychological self-care in these times of high anxiety, social isolation and economic uncertainty. The lectures, focusing on topics like stress management and self-confidence, have been viewed tens of thousands of times and received hundreds of comments, where viewers were able to ask the psychologist questions as well as offer advice and support to each other.
One of the most pernicious developments in the global pandemic thus far has been shortages of lifesaving ventilators for critically ill patients. A group of seven engineering companies have joined forces with Armenian doctors, university students, and other specialists to quickly restore old ventilators taken from storage, as well as to develop a prototype for a ventilator that can be easily manufactured and repaired.
Armenian app developers have created Covid-19 Armenia, a mobile application providing practical information and updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Armenia. The most popular feature of the app is an interactive medical “test”, wherein users answer a series of questions about their condition and symptoms and the app advises them on what steps should be taken (seeking medical attention or self-quarantining), and an epidemiologist contacts the users at highest risk and consults with them individually.
While ethnic minorities are a relatively few in Armenia, they are part of the fabric of Armenian society. The Yezidi Center for Human Rights has been translating key public health information in the Yezidi language, as well as Assyrian and Greek. At the same time they are leading the effort to lobby authorities to translate public health information into the languages of national minorities.