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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Socially Distant: COVID-19 Reveals Strength of Human Connections

Ibrahima Diallo, Country Director of Guinea Farmer-to-Farmer and James Mitchell, Program Manager Farmer-to-Farmer

In Guinea (West Africa), as with the rest of the world, the presence of COVID-19 has prompted the Government to initiate national lockdown quarantine measures. Once bustling, vibrant streets and markets have now slowed to a quiet hum as businesses and government agencies temporarily shut their doors. For Winrock’s Farmer-to-Farmer team, based in the capital city Conakry, this has meant the start of teleworking and the end of direct personal interaction with the American technical expert volunteers who form the backbone of our programmatic activity.

Yet at a time of great social strain, the people-to-people connections formed between Guinea and the United States are on full display. Ibrahima Diallo (Country Director) recently contacted more than 70 American volunteers that had worked with him in the past in Guinea. Wanting only to reconnect at a time of shared struggle, Diallo noted “I wanted to hear from them, share the echoes of their assignments and to invite them to return in Guinea for other assignments once this COVID-19 is over.”

The response was tremendous. Former volunteers from across the country wrote to Diallo and his team sending well-wishes and sharing their own stories of the importance of family and the bonds that transcend people and place.

Diallo and his team have initiated similar outreach to the network of community organizations we work to support across Guinea. He reports that COVID-19 has placed a serious financial burden onto already struggling areas. In turn, they have encouraged local organizations to use the media to advocate and share their messages through online media, radio, and TV to show the impact of COVID-19 on their activities.

While Diallo and his team adapt to this time of working without direct human interaction, the strength of our relations, across Guinea and over oceans, reveals that human connections will overcome this challenge.

Country Director, Ibrahima, Volunteer, Felipe Tejada and Driver, Bailo Diallo enjoying a tea break while on assignment in 2019