EO BANGLADESH | MyEO Engage WE RISE
Updated: Apr 13
The novel COVID-19 Virus has become a global concern, that has called for world-class action. EO chapters from all over have started to organize themselves, in every corner of the world. As part of our ongoing MyEO Engage ALL RISE series, we take a look at the various efforts that our community is currently undertaking. For this edition, we take a look at how EO Bangladesh has taken a disciplined, multi-aspect approach to flatten their national COVID-19 curve.
Fighting a global pandemic extends well beyond the purely medical concerns this virus has brought about. So much of what was once considered normal now poses threats to peoples’ lives. In the case of Entrepreneurs, many of their businesses are now facing questions that extend well beyond creating goods and services. Business continuity has been brought to the forefront, with many entrepreneurs trying to keep things going while constantly adjusting around safety measures to halt the spread of this COVID-19 virus. There is so much effort that is required as everyone is doing their part through social distancing, quarantines, and even in some cases, city wide lockdowns.
In the case of Bangladesh, these policies are proving difficult to implement. The country's inherent high population density, coupled with labor & transit concerns have put many Bangladeshis at risk of contracting COVID-19. In the capital of Dhaka, government institutions are attempting to manage the spread of the virus by closing off the city until April 11. Nevertheless, many daily wage workers have persisted in re-entering Dhaka City from neighboring areas like Savar, Manikganj, Barishal, Mymensingh, Gazipur and many other parts of the country in bid to return to normal working conditions. Dhaka's situation is making the concept of returning quickly to a business as usual difficult. In these trying times however, there are glimmers of hope. SAJIDA Foundation, headed by Zahida Fizza Kabir from EO Bangladesh, already had efforts to educate and stem the tide of COVID-19 even before major restrictions were put into place. As early as mid-March, the social enterprise was already producing informational material en masse, focusing on spreading awareness to local communities and the garment industry workers based in Dhaka. The efforts of SAJIDA Foundation go well beyond information campaigns in recent weeks. Their work has now extended to the very front lines of efforts to combat the COVID-19 Outbreak, seeing this EO company tackle the disease online, in public spaces, and on the medical field
Taking the fight online
The COVID-19 pandemic is a modern problem that requires modern solutions, especially on the information front. The SAJIDA Foundation, in collaboration with Appinion BD, Renata Limited, and Vertex Chambers have built a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot that is looking to ensure Bangladeshis have access to the best information out there on an already popular platform. Through the COVID-19 Bangladesh chatbot, users can interact with a program designed to help regular citizens stay informed about how they can tackle the pandemic on a personal level. The SAJIDA version offers users key illness prevention tips, as well as a symptoms checker for those unsure whether the virus is affecting them. The chatbot also connects users to key healthcare providers that are servicing those seeking COVID-19 specific medical solutions.
The chatbot goes one step further by addressing the mental health issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as anxiety and isolation that some may be feel during this time. In developing the app, the SAJIDA Foundation wanted to ensure that users would have the opportunity to help address their mental health, and not just their physical health. The bot provides tips on how to keep calm, going as far as identifying local mental health professionals if necessary. The bots are also scripted to recommend simple activities for self-care that include meditation app suggestions, Netflix-connecting applications, musical instrument tutorial sites, and even movie recommendations to provide some distraction and to keep the mind occupied.
Providing for those most at risk
On the streets of Dhaka, the SAJIDA Foundation has made it their mission to go to where people need the most help. In these times, they have concentrated their efforts on tackling the associated effects of the quarantine and lockdowns, especially for some of the most at risk residents of Bangladesh: the city's urban poor.
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, hundreds of hand washing basins have been set up across the capital of Dhaka to promote proper hand washing behavior. SAJIDA Foundation has strategically chosen areas that are high traffic in areas where they have already established relationships with the people there. Managed by their frontline staff, SAJIDA created a low cost sanitation solution where there previously were none. These new installations have helped address one of the biggest vectors in the spread of the virus.
SAJIDA Foundation has always been known for its work with the people. Through the foundation's Amrao Manush Program, emergency aid has been provided for almost 2,000 individuals. This program was already working with the street dwellers, the most vulnerable urban poor of Dhaka before the virus was a local concern. In two days, the foundation's team was able to distribute emergency food & hygiene packs with rice, lentils, soap and other life essentials for those who needed it most.
In 20 areas of Dhaka, day laborers, street hawker, and transportation worker households, received the first wave of relief that was released last March 24th and 25th. These donations were only the first major release of goods through the Amrao Manush Program, with expanded efforts in the pipeline for the duration of this pandemic.
On the Medical Front.
Though many of the efforts of the SAJIDA Foundation have focused on Dhaka, it has not forgotten about the need to tackle the virus head on. The foundation was already greatly involved in providing health care needs on many levels prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. It was only a matter of time before SAJIDA found a way to provide immediate care for those who have contracted the disease.
Partnering with the national government’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), SAJIDA Foundation has converted its hospital in Simrail, Narayangani to a dedicated COVID-19 isolation facility. Located right outside Dhaka, away from the busiest and most densely populated areas, the SAJIDA Hospital's 50 beds will be managed in tandem by SAJIDA and the DGHS. This specific facility will be providing dedicated diagnostic and intensive care units for confirmed cases of COVID-19, from all around the region.
Through this same partnership with the DGHS, SAJIDA Foundation has also pledged a donation of 10,000 Personal Protective Equipment sets for health service providers across the country. These PPE sets are key in protecting health care workers who are the most exposed to the virus, facing this massive virus on a daily basis. PPEs are one of the most in demand supplies for hospitals across the world, and 10,000 pieces will go a long way in ensuring that hospitals do not lose doctors, nurses, and essential staff to COVID-19 in their service of their patients.
For the long haul
In a statement made via its website, SAJIDA’s CEO Zahida Fizza Kabir promised to maintain this spirit of social impact throughout these trying times, be it through their aid, awareness, or partnerships. Her message of hope and determination shows the spirit of the global network, and EO Bangladesh in providing solutions in these trying times “From the very onset of this crisis, SAJIDA Foundation and its dedicated staff (have) been among the first to respond to this emergency. We are committed to devoting every resource at our disposal and every effort to combat this outbreak and ensure the safety and wellbeing for all, focusing on the most vulnerable communities... ( The SAJIDA FOUNDATION) is all in, and we are in it for the long haul.
We are proud to extend our decades of expertise in health, water, sanitation and hygiene services and humanitarian response during such a global crisis. At this point it is crucial to stand together and collaborate, motivate and protect first responders and ensure coordinated support for the most vulnerable members. I could not be prouder of the SAJIDA family, and I am thankful for all your continued support in volunteering, mobilizing funds and offering essential services during this time. But let us remember that this is only the beginning. We are counting on you to stay with us as we fight through this.”
For those who are looking to stay up to date on the efforts of EO Bangladesh, and of the SAJIDA Foundation, they are constantly updating their website on the statistics of their various efforts. If you want to stay abreast on their developments, stay tuned to their website at http://www.sajidafoundation.org/response/coronavirus-covid-19/
Is your chapter conducting efforts to help combat this Global Corona Pandemic?
If so, please let the MyEO Engage team know so that we can report to members across the world how your chapter has a beacon of hope. Help us tell your story through https://bit.ly/MyEOEngage_WeRise, or at email@example.com so we can inspire members across the world to share your stories of social impact, especially when the world at large needs hope the most.