Solomon Islands

Mathias Lima Jnr

In April 2020, Tropical Harold hit the Pacific Islands causing widespread damage to infrastructures and livelihood. Although these countries have been preparing for disasters of this kind, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the response particularly complicated.

 Mathias was part of the Disaster Management Team working with the communities affected by the Tropical Harold in the west of Guadalcanal Province, in Solomon Islands.

He led an awareness team of eight Red Cross local volunteers who supported the people in their communities to stay informed and to take practical measures for their safety.

Accessibility was a major challenge.

"The geographical locations of the communities, which are scattered across the valleys and along the seaside, has made it difficult to access the communities. Unmaintained roads were too risk to use. The alternative routes were unsafe. Sometimes we had to stay overnight."

This affected the timeframe of the response because most of the time was taken trying to reach the communities” said Mathias. 

And yet, once they arrived to the communities, Mathias and his team had to overcome the mistrust of communities and earn their attention and their time. At times, they had to stay overnight.

“Despite these challenges, I was reassuring the team that we leave our home to serve the communities”.

Their approach was very targeted. They mostly addressed children in schools, teachers, youths and key leaders (male and female). Sometimes, church leaders with whom Mathias and his team were in confidence, would relay key messages and facilitate their work with the communities.

"Hearing children, youth, and adults in the communities talk about COVID-19, their responses around practical measures to keep themselves and others safe is evidence that the awareness done enabled communities to be informed and prepared."