Staff from Plan International in Brazil have been busy working with local authorities and the national government to tackle the spread of the Zika virus.
Priorities include raising awareness and ensuring children and their families have the resources and information they need to be able to stop the spread of the mosquitoes that carry the virus. No community action would be complete, however, without the involvement of children.
Through a workshop in Alicone, children and their caregivers learned how to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites. They were taught about the importance of cleaning up garbage and eliminating places where pools of stagnant water can form, as well as how to watch for symptoms of the virus.
During a playful day, girls and boys from the whole community participated in a range of fun, yet educational, games and activities.
“The priority is to involve children in this fight,” said Dariane Silva, Plan International Brazil Social Educator. “It’s important to include them in the process of stopping this disease. They can and should help their parents and caregivers pay attention to possible breeding spots in the areas around their homes and schools.”
This has been a welcome initiative for mother-of-six, Cira Santos.
“This assistance really helps keep our family safe,” she said. “We even try to get the neighbors to take care of possible breeding spots in their home. Our safety can only be guaranteed if everybody takes responsibility.”
In São José de Ribamar, girls and boys took part in activities at one of the biggest schools in the area. From there, a group of children campaigned at the entrance to the city, holding up signs and distributing leaflets with information about the Zika virus, all while being supervised by the local fire department.
“My grandmother had a fever last week and the whole family got scared that it could be Dengue or Zika,” said 11-year-old Taciani. “We are here today trying to inform people so they can be less scared of that in the future.”
Afterward, a children’s theater group presented a play to children, teachers, parents, and school staff about the importance of keeping the house – and the area around it – clean to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
“Through art we engage all our students in the fight against [the] Zika virus, especially the young ones,” said educational facilitator Maria Santos. “They were delighted with the play. They had fun!”