Photos and words by Palestine Red Crescent Society

Salma Mahmoud Al Barqawi (50) has been volunteering with PRCS in Anabta for the past 17 years, and this fills her with pride. The years she has spent volunteering have shaped her personality, made her an active member of society and increased her awareness and commitment to her town, friends and family.

Salma first heard about the new coronavirus on local radio, and then attended an awareness-raising workshop held by PRCS on COVID—19 in Anabta.

“After the workshop, I communicated the basic health messages conveyed to us to other community members to help them protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus. I did this in a simple and reassuring manner without stoking fear or panic in the community”, she says.

Speaking about her personal experience with the new Coronavirus, Salma explains that her husband works inside Israel. He had spent an entire month away from home, but with the rapid spread of the virus and the many calls for workers to return to their villages, he decided to come home along with eight other workers from the town.

When they reached the nearest checkpoint to Anabta, Salma called PRCS and asked for the phone number of the Preventive Medicine Unit, which she then immediately contacted.

”My husband and his colleagues then reported to the COVID—19 testing center. None of them tested positive, but they all self-quarantined for 14 days. When this happened, I realized the importance of the health messages and preventive measures I learned through the PRCS workshop”, she says.

Salma also called the wives of her husband’s colleagues and explained to them that no one should hug, kiss or touch their husbands and that they needed to be isolated.

“We all agreed to keep in touch and to contact PRCS should we have questions.”

In Salma Mahmoud Al Barqawi’s house, her husband had to use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Salma washed all his clothes separately and served him his meals in disposable plates.

”None of us came within 2 meters from him. I also called PRCS and they sent volunteers to disinfect my house. It was very difficult for my husband to stay away from his grandchildren whom he missed a lot. But he knew that he had to protect them by respecting social distancing measures”, she explains.

Salma believes that defeating COVID—19 requires a strong will, commitment, understanding and awareness.

“Above all, do not panic and keep a cool head because panicking will overwhelm you and prevent you from working effectively to prevent the spread of the virus. My final advice to everyone: stay at home – for your sake but also for the sake of your loved ones and your homeland”, Salma concludes.