“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”
Najwa is a young lady from Al Kufra Region who has been volunteering with the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC) for nearly twenty years. Her passion about community work stems from her deep belief that every person can make a difference by serving society even through small actions. Recalling her memories, she said: “I started volunteering at a very young age when I was a little kid at primary school. I strongly believe that small actions can make a difference and I find true happiness in helping others and making them happy”.
On the general conditions in Al Kufra Region, she affirmed that: “The Al Kufra Region has its own peculiarity. It is about 600 km far from the nearest city and more than 1,000 km from the main coastal cities, which makes the living conditions difficult”. She is concerned because the region suffers from a shortage of basic materials, dilapidated infrastructure, a shortage of fuel, high prices of basic items, and a lack of medical services including specialized ones, due to the lack of available health workforce. Amid these circumstances, she decided to take action in order to contribute to alleviating the impact of these conditions especially with the growing needs in her region.
Currently, Najwa is a volunteer from the Libyan Red Crescent and one of the 11 community health workers who are collaborating with Première Urgence Internationale (PUI) on community health activities in Al Kufra as part of a project implemented by the organization and financially supported by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the Swiss Confederation. The project aims to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable populations and to contribute to improving their access to essential services. With her fellow colleagues, Najwa conducts awareness raising activities in her community, as well as regular screening whether for malnutrition in children under the age of 5, or for pregnant and lactating women. These women are also asked whether they have received appropriate preventive care and people with chronic diseases benefit from home follow-up visits. In case of need of a medical consultation, patients are referred onwards to the Première Urgence Internationale’s Mobile Health Team. Additionally, during the COVID-19 crisis, Najwa contributed to the organization’s efforts to sensitize communities about the risks of the disease and impact on the health system, its symptoms, and preventive measures to reduce transmission, as well as the stigma around being sick. Being passionate and enthusiastic about her work, she proudly affirmed: “One of the most important reasons that motivate me to continue this work is to see the remarkable change in the habits and behaviors of people in my community. They are now more aware about some health topics especially with the spread of COVID-19 in the region”. In a remote context, deprived of different services, community activities are the first layer to be strengthened in order to ensure early care and combine the necessary awareness raising with all health programs.
Première Urgence Internationale’s mandate is to support populations affected by crises by providing them with the skills to take their future back into their own hands. This is why the organization relies on the contribution of Najwa and other community health workers to create change. Première Urgence Internationale believes that change should come from within a community in order to ensure the sustainability and the impact of its activities. The organization, therefore, seeks to enhance the skills and capacities of the Community Health Workers, in order to reduce the barriers to access to basic services and improve the quality of health care, in Al Kufra, at community level.