In Jordan, young volunteers are leading efforts to build trust in COVID-19 vaccines
From fighting misinformation to helping the elderly register for the vaccine, these young people are steering their communities towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
Amman, Jordan — COVID-19 lockdowns and the ensuing school closures and limited access to extra-curricular activities have upended the daily life of adolescents and youth. But young people in Jordan have risen up to the challenge and taken the lead to create meaningful social change at a time when their communities need it most.
The UNICEF-supported ‘Shabab Elak o Feed’ volunteering initiative trained volunteers in how to combat misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, reassuring the public by raising awareness on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and assisting the elderly to register online to receive their vaccine. The combined efforts of these volunteers in response to the pandemic are leading to the collective goal of community recovery.
UNICEF meaningfully engages youth to be educators and change agents in their communities and supports them as they transition to adulthood, including through the Nahno programme. Nahno aims to instil a proud tradition of volunteering in young people, while also offering them valuable opportunities to build their skills and work experience.
To date, over 500 trained Nahno volunteers have participated in the Shabab Elak o Feed youth volunteering initiative and helped register over 2,000 individuals on the national vaccine platform.
Jordan's significant youth population is one of its greatest assets. Young people have been at the forefront of the national COVID-19 response, creating positive change in their communities since the beginning of the pandemic – from distributing care packages to elderly neighbors to broadcasting critical prevention messages. Now, with the launch of the Shabab Elak o Feed volunteering initiative, their contribution will be even more essential to preventing the transmission of COVID and helping move the country towards recovery.
Farah, 25, is a Management Information Systems graduate from Mafraq who has been volunteering for several years, in every opportunity she could find. In her free time, Farah also gives Communication Skills courses in the local youth centre to benefit other youth in her area.
After seeing the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on her community, Farah wanted to help out in any way during these hard times and decided to join Nahno, Jordan’s national volunteering platform. A few weeks later, she was selected to participate in Shebab Elak o Feed as a volunteer in the local health centre.
We created a WhatsApp group for people who were initially hesitant about the vaccine, but who showed interest after we spoke to them. The group brought together people who got the vaccine and others who are still hesitant so that they can openly discuss their concerns. Several people were convinced, especially after they heard the experience of others and how easy it was. The group was very successful and effective!
Mohammad, 19, is a university student majoring in Hotel Management. Having been engaged in voluntary work since he was a child, he was excited to volunteer with Shabab Elak o Feed to spread awareness about the vaccine and help his community move closer to recovery.
When the vaccines were first announced and rumours and misinformation spread online, Mohammad was a bit hesitant about their safety and efficacy, but after completing the Shabab Elak o Feed training, he learned how vaccines work and became certain that they are the only way out of the pandemic.
When I give information to people about the vaccine – especially to those who still don’t believe vaccines are safe and effective – I mention my personal experience and positive experiences from my relatives who received the shot. This encourages them to open up and even immediately register for the vaccine.
Twenty-year-old Aya is a university student from Madaba majoring in Risk Management. When she was only seven-years-old, she developed a passion for volunteering and started participating in voluntary work at school. Many years later, her passion has grown and volunteering has become an essential part of Aya’s life.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of stress on Aya’s wellbeing. She became stressed and irritable. Having recently started university, the thought of not being able to attend her classes in person again made her depressed. When she started volunteering with Shabab Elak o Feed she felt much better. Helping people get vaccinated and potentially playing a role in steering her country to recovery gave her new hope.
When I help people and see the smile on their face, it lifts my spirit and changes my mood for the better. I think most people had doubts about the vaccine at some point, but it is the only solution to end the pandemic. It is safe and it will keep you protected.
Hanin, 21 years, is a final-year Geomatics Engineering student from Aqaba. She has been volunteering for several years in different sectors, and she believes that volunteering is the best way to meet new people, grow, and improve one’s skills.
Hanin was initially hesitant about the vaccine, but when she participated in the ‘Shabab Elak o Feed’ training, she changed her mind and registered on the national platform to receive the vaccine, now she is encouraging everyone else to do the same.
I got infected with COVID19, I got really tired, I lost all sense of taste and smell, and I became very weak – it was terrible! I can’t wait for this pandemic to end and I truly believe that the vaccine is the only way out.
Shabab Elak o Feed is a youth volunteering initiative led by the Ministry of Youth, in collaboration with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Ministry of Trade, Nahno, Royal Health Awareness Society and UNICEF. It is generously supported by the governments of Canada, Japan, Germany and the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
Nahno - Jordan’s National Platform for Volunteering and Engagement is a programme implemented by Naua, a Crown Prince Foundation (CPF) Initiative supported by UNICEF in partnership with CPF and in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth. It is generously supported by the Prospects partnership from the Government of the Netherlands.