Tanama Continues to Battle Covid-19 in Haiti

Considering she only made her debut in March, it is remarkable that Thony Loui’s comic book supershero Tanama is already being referred to as an “influencer” in Haiti as she helps to promote Covid-19 prevention measures through social media posts, videos, posters, brochures and coloring book sheets for kids. Plans are now underway for a new campaign with billboards, posters and radio spots in which Tanama and several well-known Haitian musicians will enlist the public to help protect healthcare workers who have been the target of threats in recent weeks as fear of Covid-19 grows along with misinformation.

Following the success of the first #TanamaPrevansyonChallenge, the second video in the series (see below) was launched today and features a new group of well-known, and some not-so-well-known Haitians. As in the first video, it starts off with Tanama washing her hands, putting on a mask and tossing a bar of soap offscreen. In sequence the soap is tossed to DJ, music artist and producer Tony Mix; entrepreneur and artist Vraldie Valcin; comedian and social activist Kako; singer and architect Sarah Jane Rameau; music artist and writer Freedom; and, media personality Miss Soy.
And a shout out to Lisa Juwan, a freelance artist and media designer from Austria who volunteered her professional expertise to help Thony complete the 43 still images used to generate the animation of Tanama for this video series.
The full onset of Covid-19 is thought to be imminent, making the promotion of preventative measures an urgent priority.
As of today, there have been 21 deaths in Haiti officially linked to the coronavirus. It is important to note, however, that this country has one of the lowest rates of testing of any country in the world at 186 per million population. By comparison, that same number of tests per million stands at 61,277 in Belgium and 35,100 in Canada. To cite some developing countries for comparison, the number in Mexico is 1,376 per million, 5,482 in hard-hit Ecuador, and 4,625 in the neighboring Dominican Republic. All compared to 186 per million in Haiti**. The bottom line is that the only accurate indicator of Covid-19’s spread in Haiti will be a rise in the average death rate, and even then only a small number will be officially linked to Covid-19 because the majority of those dying will not be tested as to the cause of death.
The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) is normally focused on planting trees and improving agriculture, but these are not normal times and we find ourselves in new territory. For example, we originally supported comic book artist Thony Loui in launching Tanama as a supershero with a mission to support tree planting, smallholder farming and gender equality; now she has added battling Covid-19 to her playbook.
We launched a small operation for distance training to help our farmer members connect by cellphone (linked to a small external speaker) with healthcare professionals from the Caris Foundation, with the idea that farm leaders would take this information about Covid-19 prevention to share with their own communities. The effort was backed by our partner, the Raising Haiti Foundation, and has subsequently been expanded to serve other remote locations throughout the country through the newly formed Covid-19 Preventative Response (Haiti-CPR) consortium.
And now we are taking steps to explore the possibility of linking expanded smallholder food production, by other groups in addition to our own, with local school and community feeding programs in anticipation of a worsening of the food crisis.
In adapting to adversity, we are encouraged by the unanticipated benefits of the new models of collaboration the SFA is helping to shape in partnership with the Raising Haiti Foundation. What we are discovering is that these collaborations go beyond the mere sum of the parts. Instead there is a growing sense of fundamental commonality amongst a wide spectrum of organizations that is evoking, even in these darkest of days, the possibility of significant social, environmental and economic improvements in Haiti’s near future.
Regards,
Hugh Locke
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