In Haiti, the Scouts are used to facing difficulties and natural disasters. And they demonstrated this strength once again, by taking on an insidious and formidable enemy: the coronavirus.
To fight it, they chose two of the most powerful weapons available to them: soap and water. On March 8, wearing their khaki uniforms and colourful neckerchiefs, the Scouts started positioning themselves in dozens of locations on street corners around the capital Port-au-Prince with portable sinks, which they connect to the water supply of a school or a church, or a simple bucket of water.
To attract people and to invite them to come and wash their hands, sometimes they play a catchy song by the Haitian singer Jean Jean Roosevelt, with lyrics encouraging people to follow simple hygiene measures to tackle the outbreak.
“The aim of the stations is to develop good habits in Haitians,” Emmanuel Paul, 42, Scout leader for Haiti’s western region, told Reuters.
This initiative is fundamental for containing the spread of the virus because, even with the best intentions, most Haitians do not have running water or their own tanks and have to buy it or, if they cannot afford that, use springs where the water is often contaminated.
The town hall of Port-au-Prince has started to install several hand-washing stations in public squares and at the entrance of some public markets, and other stations are gradually being set up in many parts of Haiti.
More than 100 Scouts are currently going from door to door in the communities of Port-au-Prince, Delmas and Petion-Ville in order to teach people good hygiene practice. The goal now is to set an example and to encourage local communities to get together to buy other portable sinks and to ask people passing through their neighbourhoods to wash their hands with soap, in the knowledge, to say it in the words of Emmanuel, that “right now, all countries have problems, and no-one from abroad is going to come and save us.”