By Michael Effiong, Rotary Club of Ikeja South, Lagos, Nigeria
All around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives and creating a new normal. But our members have seen the need and risen to the challenge. Now, more than ever, we need to show Rotary’s goodness as we practice Service Above Self.
Long before a nation-wide lockdown in Nigeria, Lagos had initiated its own stiff measures to stop the spread of the virus. This meant that our usually engaging meetings had to move online. The platform we decided to use was Zoom, and it has been our playground, a place where we share ideas and make plans to help our community.
In our country, hundreds of people congregate in market places, making it a place susceptible to the spread of the virus. We decided to build an awareness campaign to reach the many different levels of society that come to the markets, and encourage social distancing and hand washing. In conjunction with Fatee Mohammed Foundation, we visited three markets, the first being Abbatoir Market, in Agege, a Lagos suburb. Our team used a megaphone to instruct vendors to maintain a distance of two-meters. We also instructed people how to wash their hands for at least 20 second with soap and water, and handed out bottles of sanitizer. It was hectic but we got the job done!
The lockdown forced a lot of people out of work who were just making enough to live on. With this in mind, we initiated an Emergency Food Response Project, with support of a grant from Rotary District 9110. We delivered a week’s worth of food supplies to families on 17 different streets in the Alausa Community.
We also distributed packs of rice, Garri (a local cassava staple), noodles, spaghetti, tomato puree, vegetable oil, sanitizers, and Vitamin C tablets (to help boost immunity). Our feelings of joy and satisfaction surpassed any we have previously experienced, including our participation in Rotary Family Health Days two years ago.
As part of an attempt to embrace the new normal, we launched a Zoom-based health club, which we dubbed ROKEJAS. We meet every morning to exercise and share tips for healthy living. It enables our members to break the monotony of being stuck at home every day.
As our country eases up on the lockdown, it is a dangerous time for Lagos. Roads that were temporarily empty are now busy again. Large crowds form in front of banks. And not everyone is following the instructions to wear masks. As a club, we feel the urgency of helping our government spread health safety information and convince people to practice social distancing. We are also contemplating a project to collect and donate masks to everyone we can reach.
Our passion and commitment to service must not stop. Now is our time. We as Rotarians must continue to touch lives as we show our desire and ability to do good.
Check out how Rotary clubs are taking action during the pandemic and add your stories to social using #RotaryResponds