Bringing Education in the Traditional Market to Stop Spread of COVID-19

Narto Hayon and his colleagues kept their distance while distributing hand sanitizers to traders in Alok Market in Madawat Village, Alok District. (PAPHA)

Story by Anggit Saranta and Nurul Hidayah*

That afternoon on Saturday, March 28, 2020, the sky in Maumere, the capital of Sikka Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) was bright as usual in the first quarter of each year. The atmosphere in the traditional market was just like any other, busy and vibrant like Maumere’s citizens, although the impact of COVID-19 was increasingly apparent.

Until March 24, 1,811 people in Sikka Regencywere reported to be in the isolated quarantine category in order to break the spread of COVID-19. This number continued to increase along with the increasing list of people being monitored (ODP – Orang Dalam Pemantauan) by the government of Sikka Regency.

In the midst of the blazing heat and the bustle of the people, Narto Hayon and his colleagues kept their distance while distributing hand sanitizers to traders in Alok Market in Madawat Village, Alok District.

Narto, the director of Perkumpulan Aktivis Perlindungan Hak Anak (PAPHA), also joins their team who is providing socialization and education on the prevention of COVID-19 to traders and other market visitors. They emphasize on the importance of protecting oneself and keeping a safe distance.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, PAPHA has been actively involved in efforts to break the spread of COVID-19. Part of this is the distribution of 50 bottles of hand sanitizer, which was produced by the Omah Markonah community in Bogor and 75 pieces of face masks, sewn by self-help institutions. Both were supported by Samdhana Institute.

“The recipients of hand sanitizers and masks are traders in two markets, who are among the most vulnerable groups.

Besides Alok Market, the distribution of hand sanitizers, masks and the education campaign were also carried out at Pasar Senja, Wairotang Village, East Alok District.

For most Sikka people, COVID-19 is a new and foreign thing. The protocol prevention actions such as washing hands and wearing masks are not the custom of Sikka people. Thus, there is a need to increase awareness and continuously remind the community. It is not easy, and people need more time to adopt it.

Narto and his colleagues at PAPHA used verbal education strategies and written appeals, both done in the local language. One banner reads: “INA, AMA, WUE, WARI, KERA PUU, LU’UR DOLOR. LIMAN’S LIOP RACE LIMAN, NORA USE MASK MASTER” (“Mother, father, brother, sister, brother and relative. Don’t forget to wash your hands and wear a mask.”)

“We use the local language with the hope that the community will not feel strange and make it easier to accept the habit of washing hands and wearing masks. It’s the same when we meet strangers; but when that person can speak using our local language, then it is easier to get along and accept the stranger,” explained Narto further.

The efforts on education and socialization are concrete steps of PAPHA to help increase the knowledge and awareness of citizens to protect themselves, in order to break the spread of COVID-19 in Sikka Regency.

Hopefully the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, and we will enter into a new phase in our daily life, with diligent washing hands with soap and running water, keeping distance and cleanliness, and maintaining a healthy body is part of the new norm.

*Written based on the narration of Narto Hayon to Nurul Hidayah from Samdhana.

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