By Justin Powell
We’ve reached out to our partners to find out how they and their communities are doing. Here are updates from several of our partners abroad.
Carlos Acosta, our coordinator in Peru, has given us the following report:
“The state of COVID-19 in Peru is in its flattening phase but very slow. We are more than 45 days in quarantine and it is expected to begin to lighten up on May 10th. It will be gradual; some sectors will begin to work strictly complying with biosafety protocols.
The Heliconia Lodge is currently closed and only maintenance and surveillance personnel are working. The closure of Heliconia affects the economy of the people who work indirectly with us, such as the native communities that we visit with tourists and buy their crafts, from the riverside communities because they are not buying their products that they harvest.
Currently, basic supplies are expensive and local villagers have to travel to Iquitos and the risk is that they can get sick. In the small villages along the Amazon River, there are no infected people, so we must take cautious care to keep it that way.
When COVID is under control we will apply the maximum effort to maintain the levels of biosecurity control. Currently the flights are suspended until July for nationals and for Internationals it will be from next year.”
From David Muiru, Youthlinc’s coordinator in Kenya:
“In Kenya as of May 1, there were 396 confirmed cases in the country by today this figure should be about 400 with 17 deaths, 144 recoveries and Kenya ranked No. 19 in Africa.
The pandemic has affected virtually all the sectors in the country. The ordinary life in Kenya came to a halt on March 23rd or thereabouts when the Government implemented measures to control the spread of the illness. That is when all schools and colleges closed, protective measures enforced. A week after as the number of confirmed cases continued to increase more severe measures were implemented like closure of airports.
By the last week of March virtually all systems collapsed. Nairobi metropolitan, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi Counties were cordoned and travel in and out of these areas became cut down except for essential service providers while curfew from 7pm to 5am imposed in the country. Travel in the country, social distance even in travel buses and office occupation became effected and affected.
Offices and streets became ghost places with little traffic and everybody had to wear masks by law. Many people who fell sick or were associated with the sickness were hunted down and locked in hospitals and quarantine facilities at their costs.
In summary this is the situation with some easiness being seen as some hotels or restaurants are allowed to open with strict controls.
COVID-19 is going to be a game changer in the way we carry out our life in virtually all the sectors. Every country in the world will strategize a new Marshal Plan it will be similar to countries waking from ashes or aftermaths of a devastation be it war, earthquake, storm, typhoons, etc.
Rising up will be a must and indeed very quickly. I foresee Kenya post COVID-19 making high economic growths likely to surpass what we have achieved before. It would be like an athlete in marathon who has fallen, wakes up and resumes running realizing how much energy he has to put up so as to catch up.
I hope you keep well and the Youthlinc community, as well.”
Our former coordinator in Madagascar, Faneva Rakotoarimanga, has reported to us that coronavirus is present in Madagascar. One issue he has reported to us is that although it is recommended that people stay at home and “shelter in place,” the poverty in Madagascar is such that families have to “choose between getting exposed to the virus or letting their families go hungry.” Madagascar’s infrastructure does not allow for most people to store food, water, and other means to shelter in place for very long. The government is too poor and too corrupt to adequately support the needs of the people. Most Malagasy people live “daily wage to daily wage”— the average annual income is about $350. That is about a dollar per day. Taking any given day off means that a family may not eat that day.
From our Coordinator, Nam Cha with SJ Vietnam, in Vietnam:
“First of all, the pandemic is basically under control in our country. It is lucky that there has been no more new reportedly recognized case in the past 14 days. However, CoViD-19’s bad effect on the economy and society of our country as a whole is still visibly significant. To specify, even though our social-distancing status has been removed by the government, we are not officially permitted to travel freely across the nation and along with strictly controlled transportation comes slow communication and support.
Due to aforementioned challenges, our service work with ethnic minority groups and vulnerable communities, especially those from Mai Chau, are dealing with considerable tasks. In Mai Chau, when the social-distancing status was still activated, trade was not as free as it had been among vulnerable communities and inside a community themselves. Not only trade, but gardening, raising cattle and animals and even the jobs of the communities’ workers and officers were interrupted. It has been a remarkably difficult time for those who live there. The longer Covid-19 exists in our country, the harder it will be to have enough money to afford food and meet social living standards.
I know it has been challenging for everyone to keep our enthusiasm and support those who are vulnerable at the moment fighting against this world-scaled pandemic. However, on the bright side, we can still assist the vulnerable communities, especially in Mai Chau, without meeting them physically. Our initiatives to directly give 20 kilograms of rice to each household in the vulnerable community in Mai Chau.
Initially, once CoVid-19 is totally under control, I really look forward to watching our service work, which supports vulnerable communities, function normally again. The effect of the pandemic is dramatic for these communities, therefore, I honestly expected there would be more projects and assistance aids for them to recover their economy. Thank you so much for your still helping our Mai Chau Village.”
From the Sustainable Cambodia Board of Directors:
“We wanted to let you know what our team is working on during this difficult time. Our Sustainable Cambodia village development teams have been doing additional trainings in the villages on hand-washing and sanitation, to protect against Covid-19. But in Cambodia, even the families who have their own Victory Gardens must visit the local market to purchase some food and supplies. And “social distancing” is more difficult in the close confines of an open-door market. Based on recommendations from the WHO, the families know that they and their children should be wearing masks while in public. But how can they get masks to wear?
The Sustainable Cambodia Sewing Team volunteered to make masks. They sewed the first few dozens of masks for testing. The masks are made of two layers of cotton fabric, with ribbon for fastening.
The SC Sewing Team is now starting to produce the masks, at least 8,000 masks, perhaps growing to 10,000+ masks depending upon the level of support. The masks cost around $0.50 (50 cents) each to produce. The fabrics and materials are available in the Pursat markets. The sewing capacity of the Sewing Team is 200 masks a day.
Who gets the masks?
- About 2,500 students from Sustainable Cambodia & TC Swartz schools
- Another 2,500 masks for the family members of the students
- Around 3,000 families in 10 or more villages where Rotary/Sustainable Cambodia projects are underway
- And SC staff who are distributing all the masks and conducting the trainings
How the masks are delivered:
- The masks are delivered with education on health and sanitation, and specific information about COVID-19, and instructions on when and how to wear masks correctly
- Villagers who are part of Self-Help Groups (SHG’s) will get the masks and trainings through their SHG
- Students will come in very small groups with appropriate social distancing to receive their masks and to get training”