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Young Bangla develops a guideline on ‘Volunteerism and Safety in Corona days’

Since the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak, the youth-led organizations under Young Bangla network have been working in the frontline from the beginning of the outbreak. Their voluntary activities include offering food and other supplies to poor people and daily wage earners who are having a hard time since all activities around came to a halt.

Young Bangla’s secretariat Centre for Research and Information (CRI) has organized 3 webinars to raise awareness on volunteer safety. Professor Dr Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil), Chairman, Liver Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dr Md Ashraf Uddin Ahmed, Resident Physician of BIRDEM, Md Jahidul Hasan, Clinical Pharmacist of Square Hospital and Mohammd Habibur Rahman, National Technical Advisor-One Health Training and Outreach, ECTAD-FAO, Bangladesh joined those webinars as experts to answer the questions and concerns of the participants. The youth participants received advice on safety protocol for voluntary work during outbreak situation.

Later, Young Bangla developed a guidelines based on these consultations as a draft to be shared with other experts and relevant agencies.

Guideline on ‘Volunteerism and Safety in Corona days’

While in voluntary work outside home
• Do not participate in voluntary work if you are sick. If anybody in your group is sick, don’t let her/him take part in voluntary activity.
• Avoid quarantined home and institute, lockdown and other risky areas.
• Try to wear full-sleeve garment.
• In case of mask, try to use N-95 mask which gives 95% protection otherwise use surgical or multi-layered mask.
• Use gloves. While taking off, make sure outer part goes in and inner part comes out on top.
• Try to use cover such as helmet or shield to protect eyes, nose and face.
• Do not eat food while distributing relief.
• Do not handover relief goods directly. Keep goods in a designated place and let the seeker collect from there.
• Carry pure water and drink if necessary.
• Try as much as possible to work under a shady place. Remember that working for long under the sun could cause dehydration and heat-stroke.
• Do not spit randomly.
• Avoid public transport e.g. bus, train.
• Do not shake hands or hug others during social interactions.
• Get rid of the habit of touching nose and mouth with hands.
• Use elbow as cover during sneezing and coughing.
• Use tissue paper if needed and dispose them in a closed bin.
• Do not use towel, handkerchief, etc. used by others.
• Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day.
• Work in a group of 4 to 5, not more than that.
• During voluntary work, maintain 3 feet distance (social distance) from the man next to you.
• Make sure that beneficiaries also maintain safe distance.
• Do not work for more than 2 to 3 hours at a stress.

How to distribute goods maintaining social distance

Preparation phase
• Draw up a proper plan first.
• First, form several groups each consisting of 2 to 3 members. One group would take the lead role in distributing aid, others group would assist them. Groups must interchange roles in every two hour.
• For distribution of food/health related items, find a suitable place. If you are going to distribute from a vehicle, keep it in a secured place (you do not need to have a thick cover polythene sheet).
• Use a thick polythene sheet on the place selected for food/health related item distribution.
• Soak a piece of clean cloth in a mixture of 0.5% hypochlorite (50 ml bleaching powder in 1 liter water).
• Disinfect the polythene sheet using that wet piece of cloth. Let the sheet dry well in sun.
• Draw a circle of 2 meter (6 feet) radius keeping the zone of distribution in the center (we call it – the safe zone). Your team members will stay inside it. Do not let outsiders enter this zone.
• Draw a smaller circle (this is Circle-1) outside the safe zone. Keep all your relief item in rows inside Circle-1.
• Draw another circle (Circle-2) in 1 meter distance (3feet) from Circle-1. Only one recipient/beneficiary will be allowed to stand on Circle-2.
• Ask all the beneficiaries to form a line keeping distance of 1 meter between two persons. Use a hand-mike to give instruction.
• Make sure you have an exit way to leave the distribution zone.
Steps to follow during distribution of relief
• The 1st person (beneficiary) standing in Circle-2 will come forward and collect his share of goods from the pile in Circle-1 and leave the place through the exit (the next man in queue will come inside Circle-2).
• The 2nd person (beneficiary) standing in Circle-2 will come forward and collect his share of goods from the pile in Circle-1 and leave the place through the exit (the next man in queue will come inside Circle-2).
• The 3rd person (beneficiary) standing in Circle-2 will come forward and collect his share of goods from the pile in Circle-1 and leave the place through the exit (the next man in queue will come inside Circle-2).
• Stop distribution when there are no more goods left in Circle-1. Bring in more goods if you have reserve and place them in orderly manner. Then start distribution again.
• Volunteers have to make sure that beneficiaries leave the place through designated exit.
• Social distance must be maintained in every steps of relief distribution process.

Things to keep with
• Hand-mike
• Soap/sanitizer and pure water
• Safety gears for all members (mask, gloves, glass, etc.)
• Thick polybag/dustbin
• Spray gun and Sodium Hypochlorite-mixed water
• Dry cloth

How to disinfect your personal belongings after coming from outside
• Leave your shoes outside, rub off the muds with your hands or you can remove dirt with a brush that is not used anymore
• Use your elbow to press calling-bell or inform someone to keep door open for you
• Go to bathroom directly, wash your hands and if possible take shower
• Wash your used cloths with detergent and dry them in sun
• In cases of reusable masks and gloves, wash them with soap or boil in water
• Disinfect your other belongings such as cellphone, wallet, watch, files with sanitizer or wash them with soap water

Young Bangla Volunteer Guideline