For eight long months, the threat of COVID overshadowed Ethiopia before the disease struck. As news and reports kept coming, uncertainty ignited the tinder of fear and panic spread.

He works in Shashamane town as a healthcare professional, side by side with his wife. Passion bloomed at a young age for him. Healing the sick and reducing disease has been a lifelong dream. As a father and husband, he provides and protects.

Their work puts them both on the front line. Not only in dealing with the sick but also in tackling the sickness that follows in the wake of every epidemic: fear and misinformation.

Where once he and his wife were healers, they were soon regarded as agents of COVID.

“They told us… you bring the disease to our family. They were distancing themselves from us. It was a very painful time.”

He knew it was not personal. He knew that the fear crippling the community could be overcome by awareness and information.

If everyone worked together, they could solve the problems because human beings learn from problems and find solutions.

“There is nothing human beings cannot change if they work hard. Nothing is impossible.”

Tirelessly and fearlessly, they kept explaining and advising, educating health workers to overcome resistance from the community. Seeing their boundless energy to help the sick and the poor, people finally started to listen.

When the water tankers showed up and the soap and masks were accepted, they knew that they had done the right thing.

No matter how bad things got, his faith in humanity never wavered. He is proud to work in healthcare. He believes that nothing is impossible: as humans, we can conquer the world. His passion is alive and well.

Hello, my name is Gelana.

To stop the spread of COVID, I take action for clean water and hygiene in my community.
I create change.”


lives with his wife and child in Shashamane town, Ethiopia, where they both work in the local health centre. Through COVID, their conviction grew that water is life and saves lives. In doing so, water keeps the tinder of fear from catching fire.



In Ethiopia, districts are referred to as woredas and neighbourhoods are called kebeles. There are 37 kebeles in Gelana’s district of which more than half do not have a steady water supply.


per cent

Gelana and his colleagues analysed the data of those most affected by COVID and found that young people, in particular girls, were most vulnerable. Among adolescents, 20% reported challenges in accessing learning materials and 15% reported skipping meals when their families could not afford food.


health workers

Organisations facilitated the training of 80 health workers in Gelana’s district to deal with different phases of the disease, including prevention, treatment and quarantine. Gelana received training and helped educate other health workers to support the community.


The story continues