#CovidHeroes: These Two Friends Are Helping To Protect Frontline Workers

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Selorm Branttie (left) and Derek Laryea. Photo credit: Derek Laryea
Selorm Branttie (left) and Derek Laryea. Photo credit: Derek Laryea

These are no ordinary times. Cases of the novel coronavirus infection called COVID-19 continue to rise by the day in Ghana.

The increasing number of cases also means a lot more healthcare workers are being called to the frontline.

These healthcare workers are the ones staring right in the face of the virus and saying ‘not today’.

They are doing long hour shifts as they continue to save the lives of their patients.

However, these brave workers are in need of basic protective equipment.

Items such as gloves, face shields, face and nose masks, PPEs and others are in short supply at the hospitals.

However, these are the items they need to be able to fight this virus.

It is this and the call for all hands on deck from Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister of Health that Derek Laryea, Head of Research and Communications at the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications and Selorm Branttie Vice President, IMANI Centre for Policy and Education decided to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Hospitals are inadequately resourced with these protective items so Derek and Selorm decided to do something about it.

Leveraging on their influence on social media, they sent out a call to their friends and within 6 days, they had raised GHS 30,000.

This money was used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, hand sanitizers, face shield and nose and face masks.

Photo credit: Derek Laryea

Once these are purchased they are sent straight to the frontline healthcare workers who need these to do their job.

Among the beneficiaries are the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Lekma Hospital. Hospitals in Kumasi, Takoradi, Dormaa and Ho have also benefited.

In an interview with Kuulpeeps.com, Derek said “when we started this we (Ghana) had less than 20 cases and now we have more than 100 cases. So now our work is required. We want to get help from anyone who wants to help.”

He likened the frontline health workers to soldiers sent to the battlefield with no guns or boots and they are expected to defeat the enemy and win the war.

Imagine if Ghana is going to war today and the soldiers do not have boots, they do not have guns, how are they going to the war”

Derek Laryea, Head of Research and Communications at the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications

“We have our mothers’, sisters, brothers and fathers who are at the frontline of this pandemic and they require every support whatsoever,” Derek said.

“The government cannot do everything that s why people like us need to support,” he added.

Derek said since he started raising funds with Selorm to help the frontline healthcare workers, he has been particularly humbled by the number of other ordinary Ghanaians who are willing to offer help and assistance either in cash or in kind.

Photo credit: Derek Laryea

He particularly highlighted how an old friend of his just gave him a phone call and decided to donate gloves to help the frontline healthcare workers.

“A friend I have known for about 10 years saw what we were doing then he called and said I have gloves,” Derek said.

“He said if I do not give you these gloves and people die and everybody dies I won’t be able to supply it. Let me give them to you for free so that you can add them to what you’re distributing,” Derek recollected his friend tell him over the phone.

Photo credit: Derek Laryea

“That was a friend I hadn’t spoken to for a long time and for him to have popped out of the blue like that to come and donate something. I thought it was special,” Derek noted.

Derek and Selorm are obviously moving around from one place to another, raising money, procuring items and delivering them to the hospitals, at a great personal risk.

Especially when the government has urged people to stay at home for their own safety.

However, as selfless as they are, they have not even thought of the danger they have put themselves in as they go out and about frantically trying to get frontline healthcare workers the resources they need to go to war.

“Until it becomes an official stay home (order from the government), we will do what we can to help the doctors who are already at the frontlines,” he told Kuulpeeps.com.

“We haven’t even sat down to think about ourselves rather than thinking about the greater good which is to be able to give back and support, safe, protect and preserve lives,” he said.

Derek and Selorm are still mobilizing in cash and in kind to help the frontline healthcare workers.

Any amount is welcome.

You can send them mobile money to 0551775577 or use the shortcode *447*1631#.

Derek said “we are committed to transparency and we will submit a full expenditure account once this is done.”

Source: Kuulpeeps.com

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