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These Humanitarians Haven’t Let the Pandemic Dim their Efforts in Africa

More than 1.2 million people in Africa have been infected with Covid-19 — and some experts warn the peak has yet to hit the continent. Three CNN Heroes working in Africa halted their usual efforts to dedicate their time to slowing the spread of the virus. In Ethiopia, 2019 CNN Hero of the Year Freweini Mebrahtu has shifted gears during the pandemic. Mebrahtu’s factory normally manufactures reusable menstrual pads for girls in Ethiopia, allowing them to stay in school. Through partner organization Dignity Period, she helps distribute the pads and raise awareness on the issue. Since March, however, Mebrahtu has been working to manufacture masks and get them into the hands of those who need them most. In Kenya’s remote coastal areas, the reality of battling the pandemic exists alongside the struggle of living in poverty. Umra Omar sees these struggles firsthand. She and her nonprofit, Safari Doctors, travel by air, sea and land to bring free medical care to people living along the country’s remote coastline. Omar and her team began social distancing measures, added wash stations at their clinics and wear extra protective gear. They also are spreading crucial awareness throughout the community.  In Cameroon, 2013 CNN Hero Dr. Georges Bwelle and his nonprofit, ASCOVIME, bring free medical and surgical clinics to hundreds of thousands of people in rural villages. But when Covid-19 hit, Bwelle and his team knew it was unsafe for crowds to gather for their clinics. So, they found new ways to keep their fellow Cameroonians healthy — by providing supplies, protective gear and knowledge. Their kits contain essential items such as hand sanitizer, soap, masks and food. To date, the group has distributed them to 35,000 people and 7,000 health care workers all over Cameroon.