With the “infodemic” around COVID-19 sowing confusion, refugee and trusted pharmacist Salam al-Hariri takes to Instagram to educate her community about COVID-19. She’s helping people #UniteforHealth so we can all stay safe.
Most mornings, Salam al-Hariri wakes early to the sound of her 4-month-old daughter crying for attention. After feeding her and having a coffee with her husband, she walks the 10 minutes down the road to the local community pharmacy in Amman where she is a trainee.
Doors open at 8 a.m. sharp, so she makes sure all the stock is in place. A constant stream of customers pour in to collect their prescriptions, stock up on cosmetics, or simply stop by for a chat.
“I’ve been here for around two years now,” Al-Hariri said. “I know everyone, and they know me. They trust me.”
This trust has been particularly crucial over the past couple of months. After the first cases of coronavirus were identified in Jordan at the beginning of March, strict curfews soon followed, with residents allowed out of their homes only between certain hours and often allowed to move around only by foot. The importance of community pharmacies quickly became clear.
“People were afraid,” al-Hariri said. “At the beginning they didn’t know many details about this virus. They were stuck at home watching TV, and the numbers of cases around the world kept going up and no one was really sure what was happening in Jordan.”
EDUCATING HER COMMUNITY
Determined to learn everything there was to know about coronavirus, al-Hariri became an instant source of reassurance, answering any questions that came her way on topics ranging from the best type of mask to wear to responding to any false rumors spreading in the community. Now she’s taking that trust and using her training to reach a wider audience on social media with accurate health advice. A refugee herself, she answers questions related to COVID-19 from other refugees by posting videos on her Instagram.
She’s even receiving inquiries from friends and family back home in Syria about the right procedures to adopt when it comes to preventing the spread of the pandemic. She joined Dominik Bartsch, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative to Jordan, for a live question and answer session on Twitter for World Refugee Day.
“We all have a role to play,” al-Hariri said. “Refugees are an important part of the response, and I’m able to provide a different perspective thanks to my pharmacy training.”
“I realize I am lucky,” she said. “I have a voice, and because of my education I can help.”
In a time of so much uncertainty, community education is essential. Salam al-Hariri’s path to becoming a trusted community resource was not easy, but access to educational opportunities helped her get to this role. When everyone has the opportunity to reach their goals, our communities are better prepared to face new challenges. You can help create these opportunities by contributing here.
We are all safer and stronger when we #UniteforHealth. Support the UN Foundation’s work to deliver health for all.
This piece was provided by UNHCR and has been edited and published with permission.