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Hope goes viral on teenager’s platform

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JULIE LEIBOWITZ

Noach, the daughter of two essential workers, has created a platform called Unite Against Covid (unite.againstcovid) on Instagram and Facebook, which broadcasts messages about the importance of staying home, safe, and positive.

“I created the platform after hearing about fundraising on social media,” she says. “It was my way of assisting.”

Noach runs the platform on her own, and posts at least one video a day. “I would rather spend my time helping people through their day than just pass the time on social media,” she says. She is no stranger to philanthropy, having visited orphanages with her parents in the past, and being involved in community services in her previous school.

“My parents are at risk in their professions [her mother, Dr Jody Pearl, is a neurologist at Sunninghill Hospital in Sandton, and her father, Dr Ryan Noach, is chief executive of Discovery Health]. This is a factor. Also, lots of people are living alone. I wanted to help people access videos of hope.”

With the catchy tag line: “Compassion is far more contagious than COVID-19”, the platform contains videos from all sorts, including South African golfing pro Oliver Bekker, who shows himself obsessively cleaning his clubs, saying that he can’t wait to get back on tour, to former rugby player Jean de Villiers, who talks about the importance of acting like a team and sticking to the plan, whether you agree with it or not. Former Miss South Africa and Miss Universe Kerishnie Naicker talks about the importance of being kind, compassionate, and mindful at this time, and connecting with loved ones.

There are also posts from sports teams including the 2019 Under-15A and Under-17A Gauteng touch rugby teams, nurses, and even the matric students at Pretoria Boys High School. They all say it’s important to keep fit, stay emotionally (but not COVID-19) positive, and follow the rules for sanitising and social distancing.

Noach is aware that there’s a lot of debate about the benefits of continuing the lockdown, but says she is creating a platform for positivity, even if it’s humorous. She doesn’t censor opinions, but tries to discourage controversy or satire.

The most interesting messages so far, she says, are from a doctor in Houston, who talks about the inflammation symptoms of COVID-19, and Bekker’s post about sanitising his golf clubs. The most inspiring are from young people who have taken the time to spread messages of hope.

Though it has been up for only three weeks, the platform has already attracted almost 350 followers on Instagram, and reached more than 2 000 people on Facebook.

“Even though it’s difficult now, everything will pass,” Noach tells other youngsters struggling with the status quo. “All over the world, we are in this together. For the first time, teenagers in South Africa are experiencing the same thing as those in the United States. This is powerful.”

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