“I felt from the beginning of this pandemic that it is my responsibility as a young volunteer to support the brave efforts of healthcare workers.”
Rabat – While our country is facing one of the most challenging times during the coronavirus pandemic, young Moroccans are showing resilience, intelligence, innovation, and patriotism. They are standing on the frontlines and proving that young people are central in fighting COVID-19.
Today we see young Moroccans producing face masks, distributing food packages and hand sanitizers, and raising awareness through social media and volunteering. Young professionals, scientists, healthcare workers, professors, journalists, activists, artists, and many others are joining forces and mobilizing massively to serve their country as an integral part of Morocco’s national response plan.
Since the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Morocco on March 2, 2020, a youth-led association called “Madness” launched the “Frigal” initiative. The initiative’s objective is to save the lives of those most at risk of infection: Frontline healthcare workers.
The young Moroccans of Frigal have produced over 25,000 medical face shields. They then donated the shields particularly to healthcare workers in local hospitals and prisons and also to police officers. “I felt from the beginning of this pandemic that it is my responsibility as a young volunteer to support the brave efforts of healthcare workers,” said a Frigal member, Abdessamad Nouidrate.
“It is our duty as young people to impact positively our family and friends by spreading awareness during these challenging times, and to put into actions youth-led innovative initiatives that can help our country in fighting Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Young volunteers are also participating in an initiative called “Solidarity with Cooperatives” (SAC). The SMarT Foundation, the Office for the Development of Cooperation (ODCO), and Maroc Impact launched SAC in coordination with local authorities. It aims to distribute over 4,000 solidarity baskets to the most vulnerable Moroccans.
Considering the dramatic damages COVID-19 has caused, other initiatives are supporting vulnerable communities with the engagement of young volunteers. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the Salama Operation in collaboration with the Moroccan government and NGOs to distribute “Salama Kits” for hygiene and coronavirus prevention.
The flagship initiative is targeting nurses, midwives, pregnant women, people with disabilities, women survivors of violence, migrants, and others.
“I have learned a lot from my participation at Operation Salama as a volunteer, I met vulnerable people who needed our help the most, and I felt delighted when I saw that we drew a smile on people’s faces only with a simple gesture. That’s when I discovered that young people are capable of impacting others positively during these hard times through meaningful volunteerism,” said Yousra El Mssaki, a 24-year-old member of Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network) PETRI Morocco.
Y-PEER PETRI Morocco is one of the NGOs participating in Operation Salama. The youth-to-youth initiative promotes youth participation and raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health issues.
These young Moroccans launched a “Saviez-Vous” campaign with UNFPA’s support to raise awareness about precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Through over 60 awareness infographics and more than five animated videos, the campaign is offering youth-led solutions. In addition to Y-PEER PETRI and its partners, national television channels and radio stations are sharing its content.
“Today we possess a very powerful tool which is social media, that enable us to reach many people and spread awareness about preventative measures against the spread of Covid-19, its impact and the importance of social distancing, especially when many young Moroccans are getting infected because of their recklessness, while they should use their energy and intelligence to serve their country now more than ever,” said the president of Y-PEER PETRI Morocco, Zouhir Adaoui.
Why youth are important
Young Moroccans are standing on the frontline, supporting public authorities and healthcare workers, and using their energy and innovation for good. Yet some neglect their crucial role, thinking they are less likely to catch or pass on COVID-19.
But the pandemic is hitting youth harder. They are facing the disruption of education, especially those living offline in rural areas. Young people face the increase of poverty and unemployment, particularly for those in the informal sector. There are many other challenges for youth with disabilities and those with mental health issues, immigrants, refugees, and others.
It is time for Morocco to support the engagement of young Moroccans and give them a seat at the table to co-lead Morocco’s response to the pandemic. Especially considering their powerful engagement through concrete actions and their strong will to overcome this challenging time, Morocco needs their innovative solutions.