Published on : 04/08/2020 – 16:43Modified : 08/04/2020 – 18:21
Bakary Meité is a rugby player. He defends the colors of the US Carcassonne (France) and the Côte d’Ivoire team. The 36-year-old third line volunteered at a Paris hospital where he participated in cleaning and disinfection during a coronavirus crisis. The Franco-Ivorian explains his approach to RFI. Interview.
RFI: Bakary Meité, at the start of this coronavirus crisis, you decided to get involved with the nursing staff. Tell us how and why you did it ?
Bakary Meité: It was an opportunity that presented itself to me. I was confined to the Paris region, at my sister’s house. And someone in his in-laws was looking for people to do cleaning in a hospital in Paris. Her nephew volunteered. And I followed suit. It was done like that and the next day we started.
Did you know a little about the hospital environment ?
No, I did not know at all. I didn’t even know which hospital I was going to be in. I made the decision in solidarity, with my nephew, towards the nursing staff. Caregivers are going through difficult times. So I figured it might be a good thing to do that.
What is your job, exactly ?
My job is to disinfect everything within easy reach: door handles, treatment stations, service stations, handrails, elevator buttons, switches …
Was it important to get involved during this crisis ?
Many French people are confined to their homes. They cannot go out. I’m lucky to be able to go out, to be able to serve, to be able to be useful. So I’m really enjoying it. It’s a chance for me.
Are you aware that you may be considered an above average person during this crisis ?
I’m starting to realize it. There are many media requests. But, at the start, I really didn’t feel like I was doing something extraordinary. […] When I saw the media outburst it produced, I did not quite understand. I respond to these requests so that I can talk about what’s going on in the hospital. The people I work with are not people we necessarily talk about. Today, we talk a little bit about them, following this story. This aspect does not bother me. Afterwards, I don’t feel like I’m above average. I tell myself that what I do, others can do it.
Have you informed your club, US Carcassonne, of your approach, before working with caregivers and patients of Covid-19 ?
Yes, I warned them. On my first day, during the trip, I checked if I was not outlaw, against the labor code. Finally, I had the opportunity to do so. So I warned the club. They encouraged me in my approach. They were glad I could do that. There were no other issues raised. Regarding this story, I have only received positive feedback from my teammates, from my friends, my family and even from people I did not know.
You are an Ivorian international. For the moment, Africa is not yet as affected as Europe by the Covid-19. But it begins to be. What message would you like to convey to Côte d’Ivoire and Africa more generally ?
It’s something very important what’s happening in the world. So, indeed, Africa is “spared” for the moment. But it is really necessary that one realizes what it is and that one immediately adopts the “barrier gestures”, that one succeeds in slowing down to the maximum this pandemic. We know that Africa is not as well endowed as the West, in terms of hospitals. So I think it will be everyone’s business: from the doctor to the street vendor. Everyone must realize that what is going on is very very serious. All together, everywhere in Africa, we must fight against this virus. […]