COVID-19 has been a serious matter for our communities since the outbreak began to spread around the world. From the start, our team has been concerned by the lack of medical resources in the places where we work. We consulted with local health experts and our own international partners to figure out how we could best prepare for an unpredictable crisis. When we launched our Readiness & Resilience Fund, you responded by helping us raise over $60,000 in the first few weeks of the campaign. This includes a $10,000 match you helped us unlock for #GivingTuesdayNow.
We want to share a few of the stories of how our communities are responding during this crisis. When you support our Readiness & Resilience campaign, you are helping our partners keep their families and neighbors safe.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo...
Community marketplaces are extremely important for rural communities, as both a source of food items and income for vendors. Since many African countries have enforced lockdowns, the halt in market activity has cut many people off from a vital source of food and income.
Many community members are both buyers and sellers at these markets. A surplus of crops can be sold for an income, and that income can be used to purchase other goods or supplies. Unfortunately, all this activity is currently halted. This means many people are unable to bring in their regular income. It also means that food security is under threat.
However, your investments in our program over the years have helped families in DR Congo build an average of 2.5 months expenses in savings!
Community members have built these savings through their own earned income by participating in community savings groups that you've helped us establish. Participants invest their own money and lend or take out loans. Many of them use their loans to start and expand businesses. This brings in a greater income and provides further opportunities to save money.
It's difficult to emphasize just how important an accumulation of savings is during a time of crisis. This greatly reduces the threat and strain of the pandemic on many of our partnering families in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These extra six weeks of savings can help keep a family from being devastation during this time.
In Northern Thailand...
The current situation in villages where we work is challenging. There is confusing or even contradictory information about coronavirus in communities. Local health experts have information that communities need on the current situation and how to stay safe, but the information is in Thai. Our team has a multi-ethnic staff that can translate information into many local languages and enable community volunteers to share it locally while we cannot travel.
Village loudspeakers will play recordings of health messages in tribal languages
Local radio stations will share translated messages
Posters will be printed and placed in communities
Each community will lead their own safety processes, but we can support them by making sure that they have accurate and up-to-date information.
Food supplies are running out in markets and grocery stores, and communities do not have enough hygiene supplies. In spite of this crisis, our communities are strong. We’re seeing the benefits of not just investing in finances and environmental health, but also community solidarity.
Community members are sharing food and other goods with each other. They are also sharing seeds. Many are returning to the traditional practices of gathering food from the forest. Some community volunteers make the journey to markets to gather essential supplies that can’t be gathered any other way, while pig and chicken rearers are sharing their products with their neighbors.
Meanwhile, we’re supporting them by sharing information on how to grow vegetables quickly while conserving water. We’ve also shared important information on food processing and storage so families can help their food supplies last. We will provide seeds to community members and share instructions on growing vegetables during a dry season.
You can continue to invest in the Readiness and Resilience of communities around the world during COVID-19. To contribute to our emergency COVID-19 Readiness and Resilience Fund, just follow this link.