Training of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers is an integral part of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s (AKAH’s) emergency management activities. These teams serve as volunteers promoting disaster preparedness at the community level and act as first responders in the event of a disaster. AKAH provides ongoing support and training to CERTs, in line with its mission to reinforce community disaster resilience and emergency management capacity. Two stories below highlight the work that these quiet heroes are providing in their communities.
When Saidimron Shirinshoev, a 53 year-old resident of Shujand village of Rushon District in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) of Tajikistan, learned about the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread to Tajikistan, he wanted to contribute to help protect his community. From his own savings, he purchased fabric and asked a fellow CERT volunteer to sew masks that he is distributing for free across his community. “I believe people should support each other during difficult times and contribute what they have at their disposal,” said Saidimron, highlighting the importance of CERT volunteers in raising awareness and supporting their community in whatever way possible. Saidimron has been a volunteer member of a CERT for nine years. Today he is the team leader of his CERT, helping his community prepare for disasters and providing emergency assistance when they strike.
Another member of Saidimron’s CERT, Navruzshoh Ghulomidinov, was also inspired to act when he saw people continue about their daily lives without any protection because masks were not available in his village. He purchased fabric, which he gave to three other residents of his village to sew masks to distribute free in his village. His goal is to provide everyone a mask in his small village of Emc in Rushon District.
Even before the first official cases of COVID-19 were identified in Tajikistan, Navruzshoh used his own resources to clean and disinfect the school that all the children of his village attend. Speaking about his motivation, he talks of an “inner power, a desire to help others in this difficult situation when people are in need of basic protective items, such as masks. It is a barakat [blessing] when you help others.”
Navruzshoh, a veterinarian, has been a volunteer CERT member serving his community since 2010. He and his fellow CERT members are providing critical information to communities, promoting COVID-19 awareness and protection measures including handwashing, wearing masks, and social distancing.