Community forum in Swahili to provide African communities with vaccine facts
Masomo Mbele Youth Leadership Foundation Director Kulondwa Declo Bisimwa is the first to admit he was afraid of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and after overcoming that fear, he wants to help his community do the same .
On Saturday October 16, Masomo Mbele’s team will host an online information session for people from African communities in Greater Shepparton and across Australia, with nurses of African descent to speak in Swahili about safety and the effectiveness of available vaccines.
“The problem is that many members of the African community have said they are worried about vaccines,” said Mr. Bisimwa, who studies social work at the University of La Trobe.
“There is a misinterpretation regarding the vaccine within the African community.
“We would like to provide information to educate and raise awareness, and create better understanding. “
Mr. Bisimwa knows exactly where the hesitation is coming from.
Before joining the Congolese community of Shepparton, he lived in a refugee camp in Uganda, where he heard horrific rumors of vaccines being tested on refugees and black people.
When the vaccine rollout began in Australia, Bisimwa told his friends he would be the last to roll up his sleeve.
“That was the fear I had and I said, ‘No, let’s take a step back first and see the reaction of this vaccine,'” he said.
Mr Bisimwa has consulted with doctors, nurses, friends and family to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.
“I observed and asked a lot of questions of people who took their first and second vaccines,” he said.
“Are people feeling better? What are the side effects? All those kinds of questions.
It was his wife, Consolate, who ultimately persuaded him to make an appointment for the vaccine – leading by example, she went first.
“We got vaccinated and we made this decision (independently) – no one forced us, but it was our decision,” Bisimwa said.
“We really encourage everyone to get vaccinated and take it seriously as well. “
Mr. Bisimwa said he respects his community’s ability to make their own decisions, rather than telling them what to do or think.
“But members of our African community, in general, should be very careful with … negative comments that we have all heard or seen on social media platforms, especially regarding vaccines,” he said. he declares.
“We have heard from many in the community that black people do not die from this virus.
“It’s not true, it’s a lie.”
Mr Bisimwa said people of African descent and refugees must be heard in meaningful discussions about COVID-19 vaccines – with much “suffering in silence”, in the face of feelings of helplessness and mistrust.
“Young people worried about their own mental health issues and how these series of blockages caused post-traumatic stress disorder in parents, especially mothers and their families,” he said. .
Passionate about youth education and leadership, Bisimwa hopes his decision to get vaccinated will give others the confidence they lack.
“We have been vaccinated because we love ourselves and our families very much, and we strongly encourage you to do this for someone you love and for those who love you,” he said.
The Masomo Mbele Youth Leadership Foundation will host a Community Zoom meeting tomorrow, October 16 at 5 p.m., with information to be provided in Swahili and English.
Access the meeting via this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82651992586?pwd=czZLdGVqMkV3dTVkSVR1YTVHTXEzQT09
Meeting number: 826 5199 2586
Access code: 617635