Pause: What to do when there is a crisis in your community or even your country…

Pause: What to do when there is a crisis in your community or even your country…

__Make yourself useful! #CholeraAlert

A few months ago, there was an amazing incident in France: A three-year old child climbed out of an apartment on the third floor of a building, and was dangling there about to fall to his death. A young African (illegal) immigrant witnessed it, and in the flash of a moment he climbed all the way up to rescue the child. It was a stunning act of bravery, in which he risked all to save that child.

It made global news. He was invited to the Presidential Palace and granted immediate citizenship of France. The response of the President of France was the right response. This man had demonstrated that he was he was a “member” and “belonged” to the community.

The young immigrant could have simply said to himself: “Where is that child’s parent?” or “Who designed this building that allows a child to get out?”

Or he could have waited until he got home before venting on Twitter, to show he is smart. He might also have thought of his own situation… It could easily have resulted in his arrest and deportation!

The true “member” of a community, the one who “belongs,” does not think of him or herself in a time of crisis. They act. They offer to help.

Crises come in different forms, but our response should be the same: We must show concern, and make ourselves useful. The true strength of a community is measured by the response of its individual members acting together during a crisis.

Now many of you know that my country, Zimbabwe, is currently facing a #CholeraCrisis. Perhaps some of you are even wondering what you can do to help.

__If you live in Zimbabwe and able to volunteer, many organizations are providing assistance. At our Higher Life Foundation we have set up #ThisIsMyHome and @Thisismyhome5 to connect volunteers with communities in need. Please call 08080400 (a toll-free number) if you want to find out more about volunteering.

You are all aware that I am not a medical doctor, so please note, the following information I am going to share with you was drawn from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. You must get the specific details here:

Most important! Cholera is very treatable but you have to act fast to restore the fluids being lost. If you know someone who is sick, don’t waste time. Antibiotics and intravenous fluids may be urgently needed. Seek medical professionals and other experts for advice and treatment without delay!

__If you are in Zimbabwe and you suspect someone has #cholera, you can SMS the following information to 37788:

Disease # Surname # Address.

Healthcare officials will then get in touch to assist. This service is free and can help save a life!

__As always, it’s very important for you to do your own homework, but here are some guidelines to help prevent the spread of a #cholera epidemic:

1. Drink and use safe #CleanWater for everything you do, including brushing your teeth, washing and preparing food, making ice and cleaning your kitchen. If you don’t know if the water is safe, don’t risk it.

2. Use only water from sealed water bottles or clean it by boiling it or treating it, as advised by professionals on the ground. Always store #CleanWater in clean covered containers. If in doubt, don’t take a chance!

3. Wash your hands with #CleanWater before you eat or prepare food, feed your children, and after you go to the toilet, change your child’s nappies, or take care of someone ill with diarrhea. If there is no soap, scrub your hands often with ash or sand, and rinse with safe #CleanWater. Avoid shaking hands.

4. Use latrines or other sanitation systems like chemical toilets, if available. If not, go at least 30 meters away from any body of water and bury your waste. Seek guidance from experts what is the best sanitation plan for your own community under these dire circumstances.

6. Cook food thoroughly (especially sea food) and keep it covered. Eat it hot, and be sure to peel all fruits and vegetables. “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!”

7. Carefully clean and disinfect kitchen and places where the family bathes and wash clothes. If you know people without running water, be sure they know to wash themselves, their children, diapers, and clothes, at least 30 meters away from drinking water sources.

Perhaps you and your own community or nation are also a facing a crisis…

# Every act of kindness and care matters.

Let us each do what we can to help, right where we are.


Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

18 Replies to “Pause: What to do when there is a crisis in your community or even your country…”

  1. Afterthought 1.

    We all live in a community. It might be a village, city, suburb, town, or country; it might be a continental or even global community, or all the above. To qualify to the claim that we are a “member” of the community or “belong,” we must do certain things that identify with that community. One of the things by which we identify our belonging to a community is what we do during a crisis.

  2. Afterthought 2.
    Already more than 100 young people have turned up at our Higher Life Foundation’s offices in Zimbabwe, in response to a call for volunteers to help with the cholera crisis. These young people just want to help in any way.

  3. Afterthought 3.
    The moment you look to someone else to either find a solution or to act, you have missed the point. The person you are looking for is yourself. To paraphrase: “Be the help you are expecting others (including governments) to provide”. Here’s a link from Nigeria on how they’re working to prevent epidemics:

  4. Afterthought 4.
    In Christianity, we have the story of the little boy who offered his lunch when Jesus wanted to feed a hungry multitude. Miracles always require someone to offer something that they have, no matter how little.

    There is nothing stopping you from going to the shop to buy some gloves or soap to distribute to those facing the threat of cholera. Or to buy water bottles. The list of what you can do is endless!

  5. Afterthought 5.
    As soon as I heard there was a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, I ordered our people to get involved: “Spare no effort to end this thing. Find volunteers, offer yourselves. Use everything we have — vehicles assets, people, money.”

  6. Pastorein writes (edited)

    Do all the good you can. By all the means
    you can. In all the ways you can. In all the
    places you can. At all the times you can.
    To all the people you can. As long as ever
    you can…by JOHN WESLEY

    My reply,
    I totally agree.

    To imagine he said those words more than 200 years ago!

  7. Reflection:
    One of the saddest things that happened last week when Econet announced that it had set aside $10m to help with support to buy medicines and materials, was the number of suppliers, and even officials in some of the affected municipalities who tried to defraud our company by offering things at highly inflated prices!
    Gloves worth $3, were suddenly worth $65!
    That is just so pathetic!

    I have told my people to prepare lists of anyone who willfully tries to exploit the situation. After this crisis is over we will go after them on this platform. Naming and shaming them.

  8. Reflection:
    #CholeraAlert, Community Challenge:
    Let’s clean up!

    From what the experts tell me, one of the key ways to tackle an outbreak like Cholera or typhoid is to go on a major clean up of waste and garbage in local communities.

    This is an amazing opportunity for future young leaders and entrepreneurs to demonstrate their leadership skills:

    Imagine what would happen if young community leaders organized volunteers to clean up their neighborhoods in the periods before the rains fall each year.

    Entrepreneurs with a community spirit can easily partner with young community leaders by helping them with hire of trucks, and other equipment to enable them to clear rubbish from affected neighborhoods!
    This can easily be done by the end of October.
    Ensuring that there is a sustainable system for Waste Management in our communities will help us avoid diseases like Cholera and typhoid.
    This is what community leadership means.
    We cannot say we love our communities if we do not address things like Waste Management.
    Please don’t tell me about how bad the local authorities are in your community. As entrepreneurial leaders you will find a “work around”;
    Let’s do something!

  9. #ShoutOut!

    Extracted from a news report in Zimbabwe today:

    On Friday, TelOne also joined the fund-raising initiative. In giving $20 000 cheque to the Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo, TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa said the outbreak was a deadly occurrence that could not be ignored by corporates and individuals alike.
    “It cannot be left to one party or for people to talk, but we have to join forces,” Mtasa said. Leading retail outlet, OK Zimbabwe donated 200 cases of Waterguard to the city council to help in the fight while Spar and insurer Zimnat also chipped in with 20 000 litres of water each to be taken to affected areas with promises of other forms of donations coming.
    An individual, Runyararo Jambo, donated 100 gumboots, 830 boxes of latex gloves and 100 000 litres of water to Health and Child Care minister.

    We need you to join us today!

  10. #ShoutOut!

    “An individual, Runyararo Jambo, donated 100 gumboots, 830 boxes of latex gloves and 100 000 litres of water to Health and Child Care minister.” [NewsDay Zimbabwe]

    Let’s join Runyararo today!

    Absolutely phenomenal contribution.
    Today you and your family or with work mates, you too can do something…
    Don’t be left behind.
    Even one pair of gloves is enough!
    All those in the Diaspora and even friends can send needed items.
    Why not pop into a store and buy some supplies and send them through a family member. You can even drop it off at an Econet store in your area.

    We need others to prepare for the Grand clean up to remove garbage from affected areas.

    Be the leader you want to see in your community today!

  11. Reflection:
    Years ago when there was major disaster in Haiti, I asked my kids to donate some money. It was not a lot of money but I wanted them to show empathy by taking action.
    When they had collected their money [less than $25] we went Online and looked for an organization we could trust. We focused on well known organizations. We then made the donation.
    If you have children I urge you to teach them this simple principle. And if you are still young, you can do it yourself.

  12. Pause:
    When I was leading the Ebola campaign, I called all the key mobile operators in Africa to a meeting.
    I got them to agree to a donate SMS code to enable ordinary people to donate small amounts.

    Some of you will remember how it worked:
    If you sent a text message to that number we deducted the equivalent of US 25 cents.
    What is so difficult about that?
    It never ceases to amaze me how many people are not willing to lead, even though they love positions [of leadership].
    We have enough corporate and entrepreneurial executives to deal with this issue:
    Come on guys!

    To lead has nothing to do with position:
    Be the leader you expect others to be.

  13. Thank you for the fight against cholera. Include also information for other cities other than Harare like Mutare. Are there Higher Life offices in Mutare?

  14. Dear Mr Strive Masiyiwa,

    Good day Sir. I hope you and yours are well. I am a female Pharmacist of Kenyan descent currently working in the U.K. I have read about the Cholera situation in Zimbabwe and the call to action to help. I am willing to help.
    I have created a platform to be used within the African setting which can link the patient to the Pharmacy. This way the patient can liaise with the Pharmacy, and the treatment is delivered to the patient. I think this may be useful in this context because the Pharmacists can provide the treatment, monitor the patient and support the patient, using the mobile Phone. This will mean that the Pharmacies will be able to reach multiple patients and also spare the patients the need of walking to the Pharmacies to receive medication. Additionally, patients will receive the required support and treatment information. Our platform is in the final stages of testing but it is usable in its present state, as the need is there and I think all hands on deck are required for this situation. I am willing to use our Platform for the management of this situation.
    The use is free to the patient and Pharmacy.
    I am willing to discuss this with you and your team. Kindly let me know if this is of value to the team and the situation on the ground.

    Kind Regards

  15. This article is very detailed and meticulous, I have read many articles on this topic, but for this article, you leave me a deep impression and practical application to my life. Thank you for sharing.

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