“The COVID-19 virus knows no borders. This has been a wake-up call for the world to stand in solidarity and work together. If there was ever a time for countries and governments to support one another and invest in health globally, it is right now.” - Karina Gould, Minister of International Development for Global Affairs Canada.
GAiN is responding. Our deep desire and commitment is to continue revealing hope and restoring life to people living in crisis and injustice, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The virus has now reached every one of the nine countries that we work in, affecting all of our projects in varying degrees. Although we have temporarily paused our normal project activities, mostly due to government restrictions and in order to mitigate risks in an ever-changing environment, our field teams have completed their early response assessments. Will you partner with us as we prepare our teams to respond?
As every project faces constraints with COVID-19, each country has its own urgent and unique need and we are responding in the following four ways that will continue to connect people, especially women and children who are among some of the most vulnerable, with resources that provide hope, faith and life.
1) WASH (WATER, SANITATION & HYGIENE)
“The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak,” states the World Health Organization. As a result, our Water for Life Initiative teams in Benin, Togo and Tanzania are:
- engaging with public health experts and local governments to complement country strategies
- pivoting our community strategy to COVID-19 prevention by supplying handwashing stations and soaps and community health promotion
- supporting local, village-level clinics with protective equipment (gloves, masks and sanitizers) and handwashing stations
- engaging local pastors and their churches in disease prevention and health promotion in their surrounding communities on hygiene principles
2) FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The women entrepreneurs we support through our microfinance project in Paraguay are struggling to provide for their families. With a country-wide ban on public gatherings, they are unable to meet with their trust groups. To continue to support these women’s businesses and help empower them to make informed decisions, Diaconia, GAiN’s in-country partner, is developing a vocational training course on how to make cleaning products, as well as a video course on financial literacy during a crisis, which will be released on Facebook and Whatsapp. They’re also developing a crisis management module to train their trust group chaplains on dealing with trauma and loss.
3) FOOD SECURITY
The children GAiN supports in both Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission in India and GAiN Upendo Center in Tanzania are under lockdown. Now that university students and vocational young adults were required to return to their campus, resources are stretched. Both Mukti and Upendo have some capacity to continue farming activities but food scarcity is a grave concern.
In response to several desperate requests, GAiN’s partner, Jesus Responde in Paraguay is preparing a minimum of 10,000 food packages made of soup mix and donated products for immediate distribution. Local church partners will deliver these packages on an as-needed basis, bringing hope right to the doors of those who are hungry.
Syria, with many at-risk families dependent on our Bags of Blessing program (food and non-food items), has banned public gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic. Our church partner has prepared 500 bags (initially) for door-to-door distribution to respond to immediate essential needs. In response to COVID-19, GAiN and the local church will start preparing and distributing Clean Bags (containing the basic cleaning and disinfecting supplies) as an awareness and prevention initiative.
4) EMERGENCY DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM (DART)
In coordination with our global GAiN offices, we are sending an emergency COVID-19 disaster response team to Lesbos, Greece to respond to the evolving crisis at Camp Moria. Home to 20,000 refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, this refugee camp was only built for 3,000. Resources to support the refugees were already stretched and now it's even harder to continue to provide much-needed care and support. Teams will distribute critical items such as hygiene sanitation goods, baby food, diapers, clothing and sleeping bags as well as set up a warehouse nearby so that emergency supplies are easily accessible.
God continues to move through His church and we are inspired by believers who are compelled to respond practically and are passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus to those living in despair, anxiety and fear. The spread of COVID-19 across the world has shown that we are all connected beyond borders, and that our decisions and actions in one country can have a significant impact in other countries. It’s how we respond as Christians to this global crisis, with love, courage and selflessness, that sets us apart.
This crisis has put us in a position to share the love of God with people all over the world. During this time of unprecedented global adversity, you can help make a difference in countries that may not be as equipped to deal with the virus and its impending consequences.
Together, when we reach out with care as well as address both the immediate and tangible needs, we help those impacted by this crisis discover the peace that only Jesus can bring.
Will you stand with us and help our local teams respond with compassionate activity and the transforming power of Jesus Christ?