With 49 applications, 12 winners of the recently launched COVID-19 Challenge, were excited to receive their certificates and prizes at RuWCED branch in Bamenda on April 16, 2020. Six of them who are based in Bamenda, attended the ceremony.

The world in general, Cameroon inclusive is struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19. The virus has so far claimed many lives globally, with cases increasing drastically in Cameroon. From research and observation, the elderly with pre-existing medical conditions tend to succumb to the virus. Generally considered as caregivers in our society, women are at additional risk if at individual and collective levels, action is not taken to curb the spread of this pandemic. This aspect influenced RuWCED to organize and launch the COVID-19 challenge, to enable Cameroonian youths contribute to spread the right information of the virus and help fight the pandemic.

12 winners from 04 categories were selected. These categories included; Which role should women/girls play in COVID-19? Which challenges will women/girls face if COVID-19 is not quickly contained? A message to our health personnel especially female. Stop the spread: Protect ourselves and the elderly. First prizes for the 1st position was 20.000 CFAF, 15.000 CFAF for 2nd position and 10.000 CFAF for the 3rd position, for each category.

The award ceremony that took place in Bamenda, was an opportunity to meet and recognise the efforts of 06 winners of the challenge, considering the fact that the others are based out of Bamenda. Participants were welcomed by the Coordinator for RuWCED Bamenda, Akuro Forsab. “The novel COVID-19 has influenced so many activities in different fields, as people are forced to be innovative and proactive to fight the virus. That is why we need to merge our efforts to fight the virus. For instance, the challenge, which involved a good number of Cameroonians, alongside other activities of RuWCED-Cameroon in Ngoketungia Division to curb the spread of the disease. I want to thank and welcome all of you to RuWCED and hope your stay here will be productive…”

                                   COVIDb   COVIDa

It was followed by an explicit presentation on RuWCED by the HR/Outreach Coordinator, Samuel Leboh. He talked about the brief history, vision, mission, and summary of activities of RuWCED. He dwelled on most aspects as he encouraged guests to participate in activities as well. Loveline Yimtsa, the Lead Nurse/Gender Officer, proceeded with a talk on COVID-19. She dwelled on how we can protect ourselves, and persons around us, from coronavirus. With WHO and other UN agencies’ guides, participants were excited to learn more as they asked many questions related to her presentation.

After the short break, the Communication Coordinator for RuWCED, Rabiatou Aliyu talked about the overall challenge, how it went and final appraisals. “We received more applications than we expected, even after the deadline. All of them were brilliant; unfortunately, we could only choose the stipulated number of persons per category. It doesn’t mean that those who weren’t chosen demerit, instead, we encourage them to keep up with the good work in their communities.” She added that a panel of judges made up of medical experts assessed the entries and ranked them. Thus, the prize selection committee did the final judgment based on the recommendations from the experts.

                                   COVID R     COVIDK
It was followed by series of presentations by all 06 winners of the challenge. They shared their experience, what motivated them and their appraisals. Nzouenkeu Yaanou Guylaine, winner of the first prize category 4 reacted, “Most Cameroonians still see COVID-19 as fake, as a strategy put in place by the government to foul population. My aim was to create awareness to people around me who think that the disease isn’t real. That is where I gained my inspiration from. I wanted to inform them that we need to protect ourselves and the elderly. Since they don’t believe in it, they don’t know how the virus is being spread. It was my first challenge and it was great since I am amongst the winners. I don’t intend to stop here, I intend to participate in more challenges if it helps people in my environment. It also helped me to discover other skills during this confinement period. Right now, I think I am useful to the society and my environment.”

                                  COVIDG     COVIDH
Yilareng Lucien Fonyuy, winner of 2nd prize (category 4), who received his certificate and prizes online, reacted; “COVID-19 challenge by RUWCED is a laudable initiative, for the purpose of awareness creation which is better, and by far cheaper than cure. I applaud the organizers for this great privilege to share my experience with like-minded people of good will and the world at large. As a health worker, one of our objective is to sensitize the public on positive health habits, mindful of the devastating effect caused by COVID-19. I got inspired to do a video illustrating washing and sanitation hygiene, which is an effective measure to curb the spread of this virus as prescribed by W.H.O and competent authorities in collaboration with the ministry of public health. We need to rise up in solidarity to all health worker, humanitarian actors who are front liners braving all odds to serve humanity earnestly and most importantly extend helping hands to the disadvantage few in times like this, wherein the whole world is fighting against a common enemy. I'm honored and overwhelmed with joy for being a participant and award winner of this covid-19 challenge. Once more thank you for the recognition.”

“My passion is deeply rooted in medicine. I recently placed myself in a current situation like now. That if everybody scares away from the situation who will help the victims of COVID-19? I had to write the message not as a competition but trying to express my mind to those facing the situation which is our lovely front line soldiers (medical personnel) not forgetting our ladies who tend out to be majority of population in hospitals as nurses, and not only in hospitals but homes too. I appreciate the competition because it gave me courage not to give up on dreams of helping my community.” Nulayeh Vanesa Menge, one of the winners from Yaoundé.

At the end, all participants talked about their activities and plans after winning the challenge. They promised to serve as real ambassadors to channel the work of RuWCED in their various fields and communities. They promised to reach out to people around them and spread the right news not just on COVID-19, but SRH issues learned today. During the session, Ndi Telma, one of the winners, exposed part of the work she did for the challenge but the number of words limited her. It was a table of alphabets with COVID-19 messages, “A- Avoid crowd, B- Beware of fake news, C- Clean your hands, D- Don’t go out…”

                                COVIDc  COVIDd

The ceremony ended with the award or prizes and certificates. One of the participants who didn’t make it but was present during the ceremony, affirmed he’ll act as an ambassador to spread the right messages to the public and help his surrounding. All participants departed with smiles on their faces.