Helping. Lending hands. Being heroes. Seeing a crisis and responding with action. We want to sing the praises of some of those who have made ACT’s Covid-19 relief response possible.
In the aftermath of any tragedy, faced with being discouraged and demoralised, we’re told to look for the helpers. They’ll be there, rising to the occasion to be a hero to those in need. Just the people that ACT wishes to show our gratitude and appreciation for.
Simply put, we could not have done any of the few months’ undertakings without them.
“So much of what we are doing involves a number of vital people to make this whole process work,” says ACT team member Jude. “We would like to share about these people who have personally helped, sacrificed and contributed in incredible ways to our response in Tunisia.”
Safa*, Amina* and Imen* are the three social workers in two of ACT’s partner centres. They support many vulnerable families in their local areas.
Prior to the lock-down in mid-March these two centres always had their doors open in order to receive and support families in need. Coronavirus meant the doors had to close as confinement and curfews were imposed.
These women are still working inside behind the closed doors, and have been coordinating a huge amount of administration for ACT’s relief response. Assessing the needs of hundreds of families, continuously calling recipients, distributing essential food parcels, making sure receipts are being signed and writing the all-important reports: their work is endless. However, despite the pressure and exhaustion, they are compassionate and continue to listen, trying their hardest to work something out for those seeking help.
Yousef* “has been brilliant”, according to ACT team member Anne. He is a truck driver, hired to help with the distributions in the Kef region.
The Kef relief response team needed a hired truck in order to complete their distributions. In Yousef, they found a truck with a driver willing to go the extra mile. He helped with the admin and logistics of distributions, calling recipients ahead of time to ensure they were expecting us. ACT were blessed to have a right-hand man as well as a driver! Yousef helped keep distributions on-task, de-escalating tensions and listening to people’s stories.
“[It was] a relief to be doing [distributions] with Yousef and seeing how well he handled the situation,” says Anne. “Knowing that he was hired as a delivery driver, he could easily have said ‘not my problem’ but didn’t. He helped with loading and unloading, with ensuring the distribution happened fairly.”
Amin* has been a friend of ACT for many years. He is well known and well connected with how a number of the administration systems work in Tunisia.
In early April, as we were figuring out our Corona relief response, we reached out to Amin, seeking his knowledge and guidance on how to secure various travel authorisation information and documents.
Amin personally took one of our colleagues to the necessary administration buildings and spoke on our behalf, seeking favour that we too could get permission to travel. Despite the offices’ initial refusal of our application, Amin continued to push on our behalf. Permission has since been granted!
Amin continues to share information and resources with us. We are thankful for Amin and appreciate the friendship and collaboration of our work together.
Marwa* works as a post-office cashier. Towards the end of May, with Eid Al-Fitr – the religious holiday celebrated marking the end of Ramadan – approaching, ACT wanted to send money transfers through the post office to 145 beneficiaries. As well as post offices being incredibly busy during the days prior to this holiday, the end of the month is also when pensions and social security are collected.
Two ACT team members went to two different post offices, desperate to submit 85 money transfers for families in need. Both had long queues, so we decided to go to another post office in a large shopping centre, hoping it would be quieter. Walking past the queue of about 40 people, we approached the desk explaining our situation to Marwa. Faced with processing so many money transfers before their closing time, and without a complaint, refusal or hesitation she got to work. One at a time, all 85 transfers were processed.
One and a half hours later we walked out of the post office thankful for Marwa and her diligence, professionalism, and her heart, and grateful knowing those in need would receive the support before Eid.
Ahmed* is a taxi driver in the capital city. He knows a lot of information about where to get various documents and papers processed. He has been helping an ACT team member, and he has supplied them with re-usable masks – an essential for any travel or distribution work.
He has also been a huge practical help, travelling to various post offices in order to collect the hundreds of forms needed to process money transfers to families in need during the pandemic.
There has been Kef Fixers in every distribution locale. Someone who has known the place and the families. People who gave their time voluntarily to ensure delivers went to the right places, who showed ACT around. One Sunday distributions went on for nine hours – the volunteers gave up their entire days to help us distribute food parcels. Many people have really stepped up, which has been incredible.
The Sfax Squad – Hmaida, Hanen, Basma, Saifedine, Chokri, Zied, Taieb and Maryam – and were some of the first volunteers to join with ACT’s efforts. More than that, many proved vital to getting the efforts of the ground in the first place. They helped by compiling lists of recipients, ensuring parcels were delivered to those most in need, accompanying ACT team member Sameh in her deliveries to neighbourhoods all over the region. They were diligent in matters of security, helped packing the food parcels, and brought a lot of cheer to the distribution runs. For all of that (and so much more!) ACT is incredibly grateful!
Each helper is a hero in their own right. But what they have in common is their heart for those in need. Each played their vital role with kindness, compassion and respect for all they encountered.
We are humbled by the example and generosity we have seen time and time again in the face of the crisis brought on by the global pandemic.
Thank you – merci – shukran!
* Names changed