All of our project areas are impacted to one degree or another with the fallout of the pandemic. We have been working with each of our partners to determine the best way to support our communities through these trying times. Here are some examples:
By far, the biggest issue we are facing is hunger. For us, stay-at-home orders are a frustrating inconvenience. For those who live hand-to-mouth it is downright dangerous. When you can’t work, you can’t feed your families! We are providing food baskets to the most vulnerable families in our project areas – from mining families in Guatemala to garbage scavengers in Cambodia. We have feeding programs in Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Morocco, and Cambodia. Grown men have broken down with tears of joy and relief upon receiving the food staples, as they didn’t know how they were going to feed their families.
Some countries, like Cameroon, aren’t imposing lockdowns, but you must wear a mask to leave the house. The price of masks has skyrocketed because of the sudden demand. Desperately poor families, like street hawkers and other informal day-workers, can’t afford to buy one. They face the stark choice between stay-at-home and risk starvation, or leave home to work and risk arrest. We are contracting with local tailors to sew hundreds of masks. This will allow people to safely leave home to work, and will also provide income to small local businesses. We are providing masks in Cameroon and Cambodia.
The coronavirus has not yet reached our rural villages in India, so we have a chance to be proactive. Our nursing staff have erected 100 flexboards and have been distributing 10,000 pamphlets door to door in 160 villages to teach villagers basic hygiene and nutrition. Soon they will begin testing and treating villagers for common health issues, like anemia, diabetes, and intestinal worms. Typically, when people die of Covid-19, they are either elderly or have underlying health issues. By strengthening the core health of our villagers, we hope they will be able to better resist the virus when it finally reaches our villages.
In Morocco, when their 48-hour shifts end, healthcare workers must stay in donated motel rooms to stay isolated from their families. All restaurants are shut down in Morocco, and grocery stores are closed by the time their shifts end. Amal is preparing and delivering 300-400 foot-long sandwiches three times a week to these health care workers. We must take care of those who are taking care of us!
Our project areas in countries like Peru and Nepal are highly dependent on tourist income. The complete and indefinite shutdown of tourist activity on which their livelihoods depend is causing much fear in these communities. They don’t just need to survive a one- or two-month lockdown. They will probably lose a year of income! We are planning some work projects that will have long-term benefits to the communities and will also provide an alternative income as families make a transition.
In Peru, for example, a bridge and trail were destroyed by a huge mudslide, isolating mountain communities and making the tourist trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu impassible. Rebuilding the bridge and trail will provide income to Marampata families while re-opening an important route. In Nepal, many schools were destroyed by the 2015 earthquake and they are only gradually getting rebuilt. Rebuilding a school will give income to erstwhile trekking guides and benefit the education of Himalayan children.
As always, we take NOTHING out for administrative and fundraising expenses, so 100% of the money donated goes to the projects. And, as always, we will triple public donations (our match goes where most needed). Together let’s take the sting out of this pandemic for the most vulnerable communities we serve!