The Kids and Reading program in Mauritania gives children and mothers an opportunity to experience books of different kinds, thus giving them a reason to want to learn to read properly. To equip the members of our Kids Club to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, we gave each participant a piece of soap and a booklet with information about the virus and how to stay safe.
One of our team members visited a family who has moved to a squatting area, where families live in simple structures close to each other. Seven of the children living there used to attend our program and she wanted to give these children a booklet and a piece of soap each too. She had brought extra and encouraged the kids to share with their neighbours, which they did.
Ahmed, a ten-year-old boy, read the booklet aloud to our team member, while his mother and her helped explain it. His siblings and his friends listened. When she left, at least six family members and neighbours had looked at Ahmed's booklet.
Little Sumeya was very proud to receive a booklet and even more so to receive a piece of soap from one of our team members.
'Is this for Eid?'(the feast after Ramadan, one of the occasions a child might get a present) she asked as she proudly examined her soap.
'It's for washing your hands,' our team member answered.
'Yes, like every morning and every evening,' explained her mother. Our team member suggested that it should be done even more often.
'Here in the squatting area we don't have so much water,' explained the older sister. Our team member tried to demonstrate how you can still rub your hands carefully even while using just a little water.
‘Information and education is so important, but it isn't always easy to follow through when conditions are tough,' our team member noted.
An eleven year old girl saw her friends getting the booklet and ran to our office to collect hers. As her greeting, she "shook feet" instead of hands. We used to run a nutrition and health project until another group took over this initiative in another area. This girl's mother worked with the initiative as a volunteer. From the lessons taught in the health project, her daughter understood that it isn't a good idea to shake hands because this is how the coronavirus spreads. We were delighted to see that things get through – the kids are learning!