Covid-19

By now I am sure you will have received many letters like this one. I am very aware we are one of many businesses, charities and organisations who are reaching out in this ever-changing "new normal", as we navigate a world with COVID-19.

I am writing to you as one of our treasured supporters of our children of The School of St Yared. They have needed your support in the past, but now everything has changed again and they need your help even more.

With the onset of COVID-19, the Western world has grappled with staying home, panic buying and self-isolation from family and friends. For many here in Australia, it feels like the journey is almost coming to an end. However, for 110 million Ethiopian citizens, the reality is far more complicated and severe and they are only just at the beginning.

distancing

Ethiopia went into lockdown in March and a State of Emergency was implemented. As you can imagine this has made life incredibly difficult for those who live day to day on daily wages, with no sick leave, holiday pay or government support, in an overcrowded environment without ability to self-distance.

In a country challenged by poverty, where most citizens have underlying heath complications from HIV and tuberculosis, there are only twenty working ventilators across two hospitals with critical care units and food security, clean water and sanitation are ongoing challenges, COVID-19 numbers are on the increase.

Hope for Children is not a medical charity. There are other charities who will be focusing on this. Our job is to ensure that our vulnerable children, who usually have the protection and resources of The School of St Yared, have the best possible support to get through this incredibly difficult time.Lines

The Ethiopian government closed our school (along with all schools in the country) in March and recently announced this mandate would be in place for at least six months. Our students and their families rely on the School for food, security and education. It’s closure exponentially increased the household costs for our children’s families, as they are usually provided with three meals a day, and we now need to find a way to best deliver this to them, at home, in their communities. HFC is committed to continue providing adequate support.

The experience and resources Hope for Children built up during the HIV outbreak response is providing the most effective weapon in protecting the community from COVID-19 outcomes. The trust we have built up with our community allows us to address fear of this new virus and provide the most suitable support.At the time of the School’s closure, we provided students and their families with important information on hand washing and social distancing as well as work from school to be done at home. This has continued throughout the pandemic and will allow the students to still be able to take end of year tests and exams.

It has taken some time to navigate the government protocols and red tape and be able to set up and execute a feeding program to all of our School’s community members. However, we are committed to supporting our students and their wider families and communities through to when we can resume a “new normal.” Alongside the feeding program we are also working hard to provide sanitary items including soap to the community and continue with sanitation education.Despite this, we know our children, their families and communities are already suffering. With children out of school, already close to 80% of our families are begging.

Just by continuing your sponsorship you will be allowing Hope for Children to continue to deliver vital services to your sponsored child and their family, for the duration of the pandemic. We have amended our usual services to be delivered to children at home and these include;Collect

  • Food for our children and their families. Hope for Children extended the feeding program to the St Yareds community which now is supporting approximately 2000-2500 people.
  • Safe distribution. Distribution of food takes time and money especially in COVID-19 times. We consider logistics, appropriate sanitisation methods and importantly, security. The food we deliver needs to fix, rather than cause problems.
  • Security, protection and communication. A system has been developed whereby we can communicate with the children and their families as the pandemic moves and changes.
  • Providing a safe environment to work. Staff have been provided with the necessary protective equipment to make their work environment as safe as possible
  • Education. St Yared teachers prepared individual programs to each year group by providing books, materials and worksheets to the students and instruction for them to continue to learn, even without internet and computer access. The worksheets are regularly marked and feedback provided. This allows them to continue their education and sit the Government exams without disruption.
  • COVID-19. We are creating packages for children and their families that include hand washing items and sanitisation needs as well as sanitary items for the girls. Together with the food support this allows the community to reduce their exposure as much as possible. To implement these measures, we are working on the ongoing process of consultation with community and government as well as continually assessing programs as we start to provide these services on the ground. This is to protect our community from the secondary outcome of Covid-19, falling further into extreme poverty.

Yared1 Yared2

If you feel you could offer additional support, we would love to hear from you. Thank you as always for your generosity. You make a real and lasting change to so many lives – more than you will ever know.

With warm regards

Jacqui Gilmour

Founder, Hope for Children