Tewabech Melese, Hawassa, Ethiopia

My name is Tewabech Melese. I am 71 years old. I live in Hawassa, the capital city of Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s region, in Ethiopia.

Currently I am a chairwoman for our older people's association in Hawassa, which has 90 members. As a chairwoman, I regularly engage in a dialogue with officials in our city on the issues that are most important for older people like me.

It has now been more than a month since we heard about the spread of coronavirus in our country. Since then I have learned about the virus and the prevention measures through the media (radio and television). I regularly wash my hands with soap and water, and follow all other guides that I get from the media.

When I heard about the virus I was worried about my family and other older people like me in my community as the virus is deadly for older persons. However, in addition to praying to God, I carefully follow the prevention guides and share them with people around me. This calms my worries. Thanks to God, up until 10 April there hasn't been any COVID-19 cases in Hawassa.

Many older persons in my community are poor. They can’t afford to buy soap, sanitisers, alcohol and other protective equipment by themselves. They don’t even have access to medical support to treat their ongoing health conditions.

The only support we got after the news of COVID-19 was from the ministry of labour and social affairs. They provided soap to older people who can’t afford to buy it. I supported them in facilitating the distribution of the soap.

I am afraid the situation may get worse if the virus spreads in my community. There are so many people who lack access to clean water. In addition, because of the lockdown many people's livelihoods have been affected and it is difficult for many of them and their families to cover their daily basic needs.

I always listen to the radio and watch the television. Both channels sufficiently inform us of precaution measures against COVID-19 and the daily number of people who are infected in the country. Up until now two coronavirus deaths have been registered in our country, and both of them are from Addis Ababa. People in our community were so worried when they heard about the deaths. Yes, indeed it is very scary, but I believe the only way is to pray to God and to follow the precautions against the virus that we get from the media.

Read more COVID-19: stories from older people

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