In times of lockdown, we might have thought our ways of helping others were limited. Many Rotaract clubs have proven this belief wrong – such as Rotaract Club of Nicosia, Cyprus, that found an innovative approach to doing good.
We reached out to the club’s president Jeannine Kyprianou to tell us more about their collaboration that went viral within the Rotaract community in the broader region.
Lockdown measures are starting to lift all over the world. How has the corona crisis affected Cyprus and how are you returning to the (new) normal?
We are proud to say that Cyprus was very quick to respond to the crisis by implementing quite strict anti-movement measures earlier on in the pandemic. Citizens’ movement was restricted to only one movement per day, and for approved reasons only. Automatic approval was provided through a government SMS-system. Additional measures were also introduced for the enhanced protection of vulnerable groups (supermarkets, for example, allowed entrance until 10:00 a.m. only to vulnerable groups).
Unfortunately, as everywhere else in the world, this resulted in the isolation of individuals; however, it also ensured solid containment of the spread of the virus, minimizing the risk of an overwhelming burden to our healthcare system.
The Cyprus government introduced measures for a gradual return to “normal”. On May 21, restrictions on movement were lifted and most businesses got the permission to reopen. That being said, it remains unclear when the borders will reopen without restrictions, which is imperative for Cyprus as tourism is a significant contributor to its economy.
In response to the pandemic, your club collaborated with the Human Diagnosis Project. What is it and how did you get in touch?
The Human Diagnosis is an organization that tries to pool together medical knowledge from around the world and aims to create artificially intelligent medical systems providing greater diagnostic capabilities and more patient care to all.
In the case at hand, they created an online, freely accessible, interactive, self-assessment tool, through which the general public would be directed to the latest health guidance and be prompted to get in contact with appropriate medical services via constructive recommendations.
During our club’s discussions as to how to assist our community during these challenging times, we identified the bottleneck effect encountered by national call centers. We, therefore, teamed up with The Human Diagnosis Project, by first assisting with the translation of the tool into Greek and Arabic language and by maintaining the translation up to date. We also reached out to our fellow Rotaract clubs, nationally and internationally, in an effort to reinforce our efforts to raise awareness of its availability and further to identify other clubs interested in translating the tool into their national languages. A fellow Rotaractor has translated it into Vietnamese, for example.
Our club coordinated the project, as well as organized and relayed any information other clubs involved needed to translate the tool into their national languages or carry out the media campaign. We provided them with pre-phrased wording for posting on social media, followed by a specific coordination schedule that was communicated to interest clubs, sync international efforts, and increase visibility.
How will you continue the collaboration and keep it up to date?
We have a dedicated translation team and a project coordinator that will share out any translation work amongst the members.
Whom do you recommend the tool? Have you tried it out, how does it work?
Firstly, everyone using this tool should always consult his or her doctor and follow the recommendations of their national healthcare service and national guidelines.
The tool is there for those who need to receive recommendations about an appropriate course of action regarding their symptoms and who may not have immediate or easy access to a health professional or national healthcare service.
The tool works by asking a specific set of questions regarding symptoms and various risk factors, in a similar way a doctor attempts to get medical history on a patient. The computer algorithm, which is compiled by using international health organization guidelines, then displays the relevant recommendations based on the answers to those questions.
What did you learn from the collaboration?
Our club and members learned that we can act quickly as a team, and make an impact on our society, nationally and internationally, especially in times of crisis. By identifying key goals and coordinating and allocating tasks appropriately between club members, we were able to band together during these trying times to deliver an impactful project.
We also saw the power of social media in practice and were very satisfied with the number of visitors on the tool’s website based on the analytics we had received.
On a more practical level, we got first-hand exposure to the translation software that we found to be quite innovative and could perhaps be of use to us in our professional capacities as well.
How has your club kept in touch these past months, have you helped the community any other way? Have there been other club or district initiatives?
In general, our club has kept in contact through several virtual meetings. Furthermore, we have had an open chat that we have been using to share ideas about club activities, keep everyone up to date, and in general keep a happy and friendly atmosphere of communication during these times of isolation in Cyprus.
Other clubs in Cyprus have worked on great fundraising projects, to collect funds for those in need.
Summer is soon here – where and how will you spend it? What do you suggest to other Rotaractors?
We are blessed to live on the beautiful island of Cyprus and will enjoy its nature, mountains, and the sea with friends and family. We suggest that all Rotaractors look into exploring the secrets and beauties of their own countries, stay safe, and keep spreading the Rotaract love!
Share Rotaract Nicosia’s post on Facebook – you might help save a life.
Photo credits: Rotaract Club of Nicosia; Rotaract Mediterranean MDIO