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Partnership in Pandemic: 14 May 2021 Update

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“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Emma Halgren

As many countries in South Asia and elsewhere face terrifying new waves of the coronavirus pandemic, thank you for your faithful support and prayers for our partners and the people they are working with, many of whom were already facing great hardship even before the pandemic took hold.

Our partners, too, are experiencing first hand the terrible effects of coronavirus. In many of the organisations Tearfund partners with, staff and their families have become ill with the virus, and some have lost loved ones. In the midst of their own grief and anxiety, our partners are working tirelessly to provide hope and love at this time of fear and suffering. Please continue to pray for them, and for the communities they are working with.

Here are some of the ways our partners are standing with communities.

Map India

India

India’s COVID crisis has had a devastating impact on Delhi and other cities, but the country’s rural regions are also facing enormous challenges.

Many states have announced curfews and lockdowns. Job loss, food insecurity and economic hardship are once again a looming reality for millions of informal workers and daily wage earners. With no savings to bank upon, the future looks bleak for most of them.

EFICOR

Tearfund’s partner EFICOR is working to reach as many needy families as possible. Its relief efforts will focus on Delhi and the locations where it currently runs development projects – mostly rural areas, but also in some urban areas among people living with HIV.

In Delhi, EFICOR will support daily wage workers who have lost income and are not able to access government support. In rural areas, those in need will include people who have returned from cities due to lockdowns, but now have no work, or families that relied on a family member working in a city for income, but have now lost that income.

Support will include:

  • cash grants to help feed a family for up to a month
  • distribution of masks, soap and other hygiene items where they are needed
  • cash for work in rural areas.

EFICOR staff ask: “Kindly join us with your prayers and support to reach many more people living in vulnerable situations to mitigate their distress and hunger and protect their lives from the spread of COVID-19.”

In particular, please pray for:

  • relief from the current COVID situation in India;
  • for effective networking with like-minded organisations in order to reach the neediest people across the nation;
  • and for the protection of EFICOR’s relief teams in Delhi and various other locations in India.

Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA)

Tearfund also partners with the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) in India. EHA has launched a community-based response in Aligarh, Agra and Champa, urban areas which are being heavily impacted by the country’s second wave of COVID-19.

The response includes: cash support for medications and nutrition to treat COVID, and two months’ worth of food relief packages for 400 families, reaching those who have lost loved ones, particularly main breadwinners, to COVID. EHA is working with community leaders to identify the most vulnerable families.

EHA is also working to secure two oxygen concentrators to help provide medical treatment in homes, supported by Champa Hospital staff, as the hospital has already exceeded capacity.

In this BBC video, EHA’s Dr Ashita Rebecca Singh, who works in a rural area of India’s Maharashtra state, talks about the many challenges of treating people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tearfund has been supporting the work of Saahasee in densely populated poor communities in south Delhi for many years. Saahasee’s COVID relief work will be directed at those communities where people have lost income and are also becoming infected with the virus. Its response includes:

  • distributing food to 600 of the most vulnerable households, using a voucher system in order to reduce disease spread
  • support for families to take the very sick to hospitals, where that is possible; and
  • assistance with funeral and cremation or burial costs.

Saahasee also has long term work in the Bhiwandi urban settlements near Mumbai. We, along with our friends at Tearfund New Zealand, are supporting Saahasee to provide food and practical assistance here as well.

EFICOR migrant response
A migrant worker with provisions, supplied by EFICOR's teams in Delhi
EFICOR migrant response_3
Harshan, EFICOR's Relief Manager, coordinates the distribution of supplies
Map Nepal

Nepal

India’s immediate neighbours have seen a rise in COVID cases, but there is particular concern for Nepal, where earlier this month more than 40 per cent of all COVID tests were showing a positive result, according to the Red Cross.1 Nepal has a steeply increasing number of daily infections – around 9000 per day as of 11 May, but numbers are likely to be significantly underreported due to an under resourced health system that is already under significant strain. Hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrant labourers have been returning from India fleeing the COVID situation there.

This week, Tearfund has had contact from all of our supported partners in Nepal expressing high levels of concern about what they are seeing, with COVID impacting both the communities where they are working, and staff and their extended families.

Centre for Mental Health and Counselling – Nepal

Tearfund’s partner Centre for Mental Health and Counselling – Nepal is focusing on addressing the emotional distress caused by the COVID crisis, particularly for people with existing mental health conditions, but also for those stuck in quarantine, and frontline health workers.

Its relief work includes:

  • providing tele-counselling and mental health services to people with mental health conditions and others in the community
  • helping people with mental health conditions access the medications and health support they need
  • providing trauma counselling service to people who have lost family members and close relatives
  • offering psychological first aid at holding centres, isolation centres and quarantine facilities and stress management support for frontline workers including health workers and security forces.

Welfare Association for Children Tikapur (WACT)

Our partner Welfare Association for Children Tikapur (WACT) is working in the Kailali district of Nepal, which is in the far west of the country along the border with India. There are many migrant workers returning from India to their families here, with high COVID infection rates among those travellers.

Municipality and district medical facilities are already overwhelmed by the number of patients being admitted, and are now restricted to COVID patients and emergency care only. Health centres in local units are providing health care support, but their response has been hampered by diminishing supplies of medical and protective equipment.

WACT is supporting the Nepal local government health response in two municipalities in Nepal (Joshipur and Lamki-Chuha), helping to resource local health units in communities there. WACT has longstanding relationships in these areas through Self-Help Group work that Tearfund has been supporting.

WACT will provide supplies including PPE sets, face shields / surgical masks, sanitiser, digital thermometers, antigen test kits and basic medicines. This will help communities access basic healthcare services, assisting the government to expand testing and initial treatment, and alleviating pressure on district and tertiary referral medical facilities.

Map Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been in a nationwide lockdown since 5 April, with public transport suspended and markets closed. The lockdown has been extended to 16 May in a bid to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the past week has seen the highly contagious Indian variant of the virus appear in the country.

Tearfund’s partner, the Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD), has been working in Mongla municipality, in the south-west of the country, for around 15 years, helping to form, strengthen and consolidate women’s Self-Help Groups.

The current lockdown has meant that day labourers, fishermen, marginal farmers and port workers have been left without their daily income. As a result they are forced to go outside their homes to search for work or food for their families, increasing the risk of them contracting COVID-19.

In response, BASD is doing the following within these communities:

  • using community networks to provide COVID prevention training (including the use of masks, sanitiser and social distancing), and distributing masks, gloves and sanitiser to 1,250 families who can’t afford to buy them
  • providing vegetable seeds to 2,500 households who have some land to enable them to raise food for themselves
  • assisting people to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
  • supporting COVID patients to access hospital treatment and medication.

COVID-19 Appeal

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1. "South Asia: Urgent action needed to prevent further human catastrophe", https://reliefweb.int/report/nepal/south-asia-urgent-action-needed-prevent-further-human-catastrophe


Emma Halgren is the Content Lead at Tearfund Australia.