The mass inoculation campaign against Covid-19 in Bangladesh began on February 7, 2021. Young volunteers of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) have been playing a key role in running the campaign, and in efforts to build trust in Covid-19 vaccines.
From checking people's vaccination cards to helping them fill out forms and practice social distancing, these volunteers, aged between 18 and 30, have been working bravely since February, in hopes of leading the country towards recovery.
"People always have questions regarding the vaccines. Some of them get nervous. We try to make them smile and keep up a positive attitude as much as possible," shares Shumon Abir Shuvro, a BDRCS volunteer and a student at Dhanmondi Ideal College.
"At first, my father was skeptical about my participation as a volunteer, but then, he went to get vaccinated. Upon seeing the contributions of my fellow volunteers, he supported me to continue my work," shares Odrija Roy Riya, an active volunteer and a student at North South University (NSU).
More than 2,000 volunteers of BDRCS are working every day across the country to successfully conduct the vaccination process. 350 volunteers are working regularly in the capital, as well as in Nababganj, Savar, Dohar, and Keraniganj.
Jimi Sabrin, a regular volunteer and a student of NSU, added that when BDRCS started planning the campaign, they did not have enough manpower.
"We deployed emergency co-volunteers for the campaign. All of them received proper training and guidelines from health professionals," shared Jahidul Islam Jahid, Deputy Youth Chief, BDRCS, and a student at Tejgaon College.
As the volunteers work at hospitals every day, they are highly at risk of contracting Covid-19.
Jahid shared that keeping team members motivated when any volunteer gets infected is always a challenge.
Altogether, in Dhaka, 800 volunteers were trained. Most of them are students and work according to a roster system. They work from 9 am to 2 pm, reporting to their respective stations at 8:30 am every day. They have been actively engaged in various activities since the beginning of the pandemic.
Last year, many of the volunteers stayed at the BDRCS headquarters for some time, to limit the spread of coronavirus at their homes.
Taznoor Ahmad Sheonty, Youth Chief, National Headquarters, Red Crescent Youth, stated that despite coming across negative criticism at times, the volunteers feel empowered and motivated to serve the community.
Sonya Halder Brishty, an active volunteer and an A-level student based in Dhaka, shared that most of the time, it is difficult to monitor whether or not people are complying with the safety guidelines. Nevertheless, she expressed that overall, the hospital authorities, general public, and Red Crescent officials have been immensely helpful so far.
Saidul Jahan Antor, a student of Dhaka Polytechnic Institute, is in charge of the Kurmitola General Hospital Vaccination Programme. He asserted that it is inspiring to see volunteers rush out to the spot to help people, at any time of need.
Although it is a risky job, as most of the volunteers explained, they are proud to be able to serve the people of Bangladesh in this time of crisis.
The author is a night owl who likes binge-watching, reading, and writing. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.