These seamstresses in Lawra joined together last month to help slow the spread of coronavirus in their remote village in northwestern Ghana. Mercy and her team are supported by the non profit group Action Through Enterprise (ATE) which helps small business owners thrive in small rural communities hit hardest by poverty and hunger. ATE worked with our partner Village Bicycle Project (VBP) to bring bikes to apprentice seamstresses in 2017.
When the threat of COVID-19 hit Africa four weeks ago, all markets and borders were closed as the government locked down the country. With all public spaces closed and gatherings banned, rural communities were hit the hardest. They are also most at risk. Food, soap, even clean running water, can be hard to find in many villages throughout Africa in good times. Now, it's impossible.
ATE immediately began building on the foundation of entrepreneurs they've helped support over the years to increase safety measures to weather this pandemic storm. They identified a need to reach out and pass along vital information about the virus and also the tools necessarily to stay safe, like soap and masks. Just this week ATE delivered food and hygiene supplies to 50 families.
This effort is critical in saving lives immediately. By utilizing their network of entrepreneurs, ATE also provided work and income to help their clients survive the aftermath that threatens food security and family income.Theresa, seen here, is the ATE sponsored entrepreneur who asked for bikes for her apprentices. Her business has been successful because she is quick to diversify and think outside the box. When the pandemic closed businesses and dried up her revenue stream she shifted gears and began making face masks. ATE purchased these masks to distribute to the most vulnerable individuals in the community. By supporting Theresa, Mercy, and all the seamstresses working on this project, ATE gave them purpose and provided hope to an entire community.
Ghana reopened this week. With just over 1,000 positive cases identified and less than 10 deaths reported, they are cautiously optimistic. The country in contrast, has a population of over 30 million and only 67 ventilators available in all their public hospitals. Rural communities remain incredibly vulnerable. They recognize the key to easing restrictions safely is wide spread testing which they are steadily increasing.
Currently the government has plenty of test kits but lacks not only the testing facilities, but transportation necessary to turn test results around quickly enough to make a difference. Ghana has only two testing sites, one in the capital city of Accra and one in Kumasi. Traveling back and forth to remote villages over underdeveloped roadway systems can take hours or even days. To be successful they needed to improve this process and decrease the time.
Several weeks ago they reached out to the company Zipline which has been operating within Ghana using drones to deliver vaccines and medications to hospitals.They have now introduced drones to increase COVID-19 testing, especially in rural areas. Read more on this emerging life saving technology...
Most content and photos from Action Through Enterprise.