The COVID-19 induced Social positives in Addis
Birkenesh Terfe, a single mother of five in her sixties with four jobless children in their twenties and one in school says, "three of my children do labor work but it is not enough to provide for the family."
Birkenesh used to provide for her family by selling injera to neighbors and other people in the area. Ever since the advent of the Coronavirus in Ethiopia, people have grown wary of buying injera from her business and money has been tight. Her husband had left long ago; so, providing for the family has been a very difficult issue back then and even more now.
She added: "Thanks to our Woreda, I can pick up what I need to provide my family, at least, the bare minimum. I also received help from rich people in the past, which really helped to provide for my family." Birkenesh further adds," I am also very grateful for all the help we have been receiving and hope that God can give these people back what they deserve."
Another man, kidus Gebreab, a man in his mid-30s explains: "I had a very stable life. I used to work at a parking lot and used to make up to 100 birr every day". He has a wife and two children, one five, and the other one nine. He says, “my wife tries to help out as much as possible by selling tea but ever since the start of the Coronavirus the family cannot even make half of what we earned before.” He added: "people don't give out as many tips as they used to. Business in Ethiopia is slow and the money is tight. You cannot even visit family or friends as you did back then and everyone has to stay quarantined."
He is impressed with how his Woreda was able to identify the difference between people who are needy and those who are doing well. He added: "I'm very sad about the fact that I cannot visit family members as I used to and hangouts with friends and family are no longer possible. I miss my family but quarantine is mandatory and I hope the Coronavirus is going to come to a stop soon."
Ever since the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan China, in December 2019 and then its spread to Ethiopia in March 2020, many cases have been reported and have led to the deaths of many people nationally and globally.
The virus has also affected countries economically. Ethiopia does not have the economic strength to provide protection for its citizens in the same way that developed countries have been doing.
While Ethiopia is providing food and shelter to protect the less fortunate, the government needs to further expand and continue food assistance and social protection programs for its most vulnerable populations, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.
It has been positive to see the private sector and communities participate in supporting those less fortunate in their communities.
Many people have not been able to continue their jobs due to mandatory closing after the outbreak of the virus, essentially being pushed into destitution.
The poorest residents were already on the brink of starvation even before the pandemic. Most city inhabitants work in the informal sector and cannot afford to stay at home, even for a day.
Handouts such as those by owners of Black Pearl Bar and Lounge and friends came in handy, especially during the onset of the pandemic in the country. The bar owners and their friends provided for the community by signing up residents in need and providing them with fundamental needs such as cooking oil, pasta, and flour.
Birhan Mohammed, owner and founder of black pearl bar and lounge said: “after the partial lockdown, our restaurant started providing services. That is when we decided to discharge our social responsibilities along the way.”
He added: “our first step was to go to Woreda three and ask if we can support.” They asked us to organize a feeding session as people hired in the business sector do not have jobs and consistent incomes.
They informed us that there are huge problems. They asked us to organize a feeding program and then to also provide food items and other essentials for those who are in need. He remarked: “Thanks to the Almighty we managed to feed a hundred people. Today we are providing cooking oil, pasta, and flour for 200 households.”
Furthermore, he adds the Woreda police asked us for our support as 31 officers were infected with COVID-19. Thus, we provided medical gloves and food items as well.
According to Wasihun Alemayehu, head of Worerda three of bole sub-city, as the pandemic has forced many businesses to completely or partially cut working hours, loss of income is the main challenge almost various segments of the society have faced - particularly those that depend on daily income are the most vulnerable.
Wasihun said: “by collaborating with Black Pearl Lounge and bar, today we are providing support of food items: 50 kg flour, five litter of cooking oil and pasta for 200 households.”
He added: “after the partial lockdown, all in all, we have provided foodstuff and other necessities worth five million birr for 3,000 households by collaborating with individuals and socially responsible businesses.
He added: “furthermore, Black Pearl bar and lounge had fed lunch to 100 individuals every day for the last month.”
Wassihun said: “until the economic situation caused by the pandemic improves, we will continue to support our community by working with individuals, businesses and NGOs.
Another example is an NGO named ‘Life Gate‘ that fed lunch to 350 individuals every day. Wassihun added: “for our part, we applause all the individuals and businesses that have been supporting the community and further encourage and invite others to be socially responsible.”
He further stated: “there are so many street children and youth that are jobless in our Woreda; we have plans to work on this by collaborating with businesses and individuals.”
The ability to physically help others in matters of life and death must be incredibly empowering. This is an act of generosity that should inspire those who have to donate to those less fortunate.
Ed.’s Note: Mesay Zenabezu is a sixteen years old tenth grader at German Embassy International School. He has a passion for writing and the article is his impression of the social positives that followed the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.
Contributed by Mesay Zenabezu