Joseph Hammond, from Ghana, fought with the British army in the Second World War. Now, with the onset of COVID-19, he is doing what he can to support a different type of war effort — against an invisible threat.
The 95-year-old is walking an equivalent of 23 kilometers (14 miles) in seven days to raise £500,000 (R10.9 million) to help African countries buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The PPE will be distributed to frontline workers and vulnerable veterans in 19 African countries that are members of the Commonwealth, with Hammond’s efforts being supported by GUBA Foundation and Forces Help Africa.
Forces Help Africa is a non-governmental organisation that supports African veterans who served under the British army before independence from colonialism; while the GUBA Foundation is a volunteer-run non-governmental organisation that provides social security, health, and educational support to Ghanaian and African communities in the UK and globally.
Day 1 completed. Well done @pte_hammond! We are supporting 95yr old Second World War veteran Pte Joseph Hammond who is walking 14miles in 7days. He is raising money for African Countries who are part of the commonwealth #WalkWithHammond https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/veteran-hammond?utm_term=KXWazDZeE
Hammond says he was inspired by a British war veteran, Tom Moore, who raised over £32 million (R700 million) to support health care workers during COVID-19 by walking laps of his garden; influencing other veterans to follow in his footsteps.
“I’ve also decided to do the same thing, to walk two miles (3 kilometers) a day for seven days to raise funds for vulnerable veterans and the frontline workers involved in [working] to kick away COVID-19 from Africa,” Hammond said.
Currently on Day 3 of his walk, Hammond has already raised over £2,300 (R49,000) of his target, on his Just Giving crowdfunding page.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement in March discussing the importance of ensuring that all frontline workers globally have access to PPE.
The statement warned that rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse of PPEs was putting frontline workers at potential risk.
“We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said.
At the time, the World Health Organisation had estimated that 89 million medical masks were required for the COVID-19 response each month, along with 76 million examination gloves.