Thursday, October 28, 2021

Nigerian author helps kids stay informed with coronavirus book

As COVID-19 spread to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, so have myths about the virus, especially among children. A Nigerian author has written a children’s book to help them understand the pandemic and ways to avoid getting infected.

A team of teachers arrived at a government school in Abuja. Armed with books, face masks and sanitizers, they are here to educate school children about the coronavirus pandemic and personal hygiene.

The initiative is the brainchild of team leader Raquel Kasham Daniel, a Nigerian author and founder of the non-profit Beyond the Classroom Foundation.

He started the foundation 11 years ago to help make education accessible to vulnerable children. But she said that when COVID-19 hit Nigeria last year, she had to focus on teaching children how to stay safe or reduce the risk of contracting the virus through her books.

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“Because COVID was evolving, I knew we wouldn’t have a version of the book,” she said. “So, we have different editions of the book where I have to update it from time to time. The support we have received has mostly come from social media and some funders who have seen our work.”

COVID-19 children’s book titled There’s a New Virus in Town. It includes text as well as colorful illustrations to help children better understand Coronavirus. It also includes a quiz at the end where children can guess the next character or topic.

Children hold a translated version of a COVID-19 children’s book in a village in Karonmajiji, Abuja, Nigeria September 28, 2021. (Timothy Obizu/VOA)

Twelve-year-old Jemila Abdul read it at the Abuja School.

“I will wash my hands regularly, and I will wear a face mask, maintain social distancing and keep my premises clean,” she said.

Oyewole, a peculiar nine-year-old, said he would be safe keeping his friends safe.

“I was furious because the coronavirus has killed so many people. I don’t want it to kill my friends,” he said.

Nigeria has recorded more than 200,000 cases of the coronavirus, but officials say myths and misinformation are spreading about the pandemic, and children are most vulnerable.

Daniels’ program, which has reached nearly 14,000 children so far, is helping to address this problem not only in schools but also among vulnerable groups.

“Some would say that only the elders are dying because God wants to save the children, that God is cleaning the earth,” Daniel said. “We heard all kinds of things. So, what we do with our volunteers is to teach and arm them. Inform them about this myth and teach them that when you hit the field, it’s debunked like this. Is.”

Nigerian officials are attempting to educate the public and clear up misinformation, which officials attribute to the slow vaccination rate.

But in the meantime Daniel is having an effect on the children.

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