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The youth activist interrupted by COVID-19

A member of Plan International’s Leaders of Change project, 15-year-old Evellen tells us how the pandemic has interrupted her favourite activity: youth activism.

Evellen, 15, grew up in the rural area of Teresina, in the state of Piauí, in the northeast region of Brazil. Marked by poverty, the region has no internet or telephone access and public transport is limited. However, these challenges have not stopped Evellen from having big ambitions and she plans to go to college to study to become a teacher.

 

Before joining the Leaders of Change project in 2018, Evellen was shy and spoke very little. But after taking part in various training workshops, she found her voice and has become an enthusiastic youth activist. Now she is an empowered, communicative girl who is dedicated to raising awareness about gender equality in the community where she lives. 

 

Together with other girls in the project, she organises workshops on menstrual hygiene and gender-based violence for adolescents and young women. “I manage the workshops myself. Before I didn't care about the topic, but now I try to help women who are experiencing violence and I have learnt about the new laws to protect women. When I see prejudice, I have the courage to speak up. I call out boys, because we girls have the same rights as they do,” Evellen explains.

 

However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the work of the project has had to be put on hold and many activities have been cancelled. “I'm sad about that. It also saddens me to know that many people in my community are not respecting social isolation, they're just walking the streets without protective masks,” she says. 

 

Plan International is working in remote communities, including the one where Evellen lives, to deliver more than 12,000 food baskets and hygiene kits to vulnerable families. Included with the kits are leaflets on sexual and reproductive health, child protection and violence prevention, as well as guidance on how to prevent COVID-19. 

 

We are also leading the ‘Quarentena Sim, Violência Não’ (Quarantine Yes, Violence No) campaign with the support of more than 40 public and civil society organisations, with activities on social networks and local radio stations. Brazil is currently the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America, with more than 850 thousand confirmed cases and more than 42 thousand deaths[i].

 

Evellen was very happy to see the Plan International team visit her community. “I believe that with the information and hygiene kits they have received, it will be easier for people to take care of their hygiene, eating and, consequently, their health.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] *As of 14 June 2020