Young refugees found a creative way to spread information about Coronavirus in their settlement.
World Vision
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World Vision

Songs have a habit of getting stuck in your head — especially ones you like. They can be powerful ways to spread — and remember — important information. (Remember when you learned your ABC's through song in Kindergarten?)

That's why at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda, some young people are using their creativity to raise awareness about the coronavirus by writing songs about it.

"For months now, awareness campaigns have been created," says David, a teenager who lives in the settlement. "These include posters, radio messages and public messages." World Vision Uganda, for example, has been going door to door to drive awareness in settlements, using mobile public address systems and megaphones.


But young people like David in the settlement are taking things one step further: they're recording the songs and sharing the music at food distribution points so everyone hears their messages. For them, music is not only a creative outlet: it is also a powerful way to engage with and protect their vulnerable community from this deadly disease.

"Children and young people are amazing. We see time and again, all over the world, they are not helpless, hidden victims. So often in a crisis, they are hidden heroes," says Dana Buzducea, World Vision's Global Head of Advocacy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 7.9 million people around the world have caught COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As of June 16th, the disease had killed 434,796 worldwide. 181,903 of these cases were in Africa; 823 of those were in Uganda where the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is located.

People and children living in refugee settlements, like this one, might be particularly at risk for COVID-19.

There are 1.4 million refugees in Uganda with the majority having fled a civil war in South Sudan. 270,000 of those refugees live in Bidi Bidi Refugee camp; more than half are children. Many became separated from their parents when they fled the conflict and have had to learn to take care of themselves. Others might have a grandparent with them — but since COVID-19 is particularly deadly to elderly adults, they're also now at risk of being alone if the virus takes hold in the camp.

World Vision

This is why in March, World Vision asked that countries hosting high numbers of refugees, such as Uganda, be given special and urgent support because of the potential impact of the disease, both directly and indirectly.

"The disease might not kill as many children from the available statistics but the impact on them is great," Brenda Madrara, project manager at World Vision, said in a recent article. "In our foster programme, we train and facilitate foster parents to take care of these vulnerable children. This is now difficult because everyone is scared and they only want to take care of their own, without any extra responsibility."

In other words, because of the lockdown, money, food and other resources are already stretched thin. Bringing in a child to care for — especially one that might be infected — is scary.

This is the reason it's so important to prevent the rapid spread of the virus in these settlements. World Vision is currently working with The Office of the Prime Minister to respond to the urgent needs to help stop the spread of the virus, such as soap, hand washing facilities and personal protective equipment for health workers.

Information campaigns can still go a long way: the more people know about the virus, the better they can protect themselves. That is why the music that these young people are creating is so important at getting the message out there. It's also why World Vision has partnered with Hashtag Our Stories to help the kids in the settlement share their stories using smartphones — after all, that's how David was able to tell the world about these songs.


To learn more about World Vision, how they are supporting children impacted by the virus, or help in their efforts, visit their Hidden Hero page.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less