Many African countries are battling frightening third waves of the coronavirus pandemic, and new and faster spreading variants such as the Delta variant are appearing in more countries. In mid-July the World Health Organisation reported that COVID-19 deaths in Africa had surged more than 40 per cent in that week compared to the previous week. Vaccination rates on the African continent are extremely low.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for our partners in Africa and in other parts of the world as they stand alongside people who are experiencing suffering and grief due to the COVID pandemic, as well as situations of conflict and violence. Please pray for the staff of our partners as they cope with their own grief and pain while seeking to help others: staff from many of our partner organisations have lost loved ones to COVID, and some partner organisations have lost staff members to the virus.
Protecting school students from COVID-19.
COVID case numbers are rising sharply in Zambia. One of Tearfund’s partners there, the Reformed Church of Zambia Diaconia Response, ran a project in May and June to help schools to be COVID-safe. Forty teachers from 10 schools in the districts of Chadiza and Vubwi received training in sanitation and hygiene and how they relate to COVID-19 prevention. Each school also received equipment to help with hand washing and hygiene, including water buckets, hand washing basins, soap, thermometers and face masks.
Another prong in the project is training a smaller group of teachers and students in hygiene, sanitation and COVID prevention, so that they can go back to their communities and share what they’ve learned. Unfortunately the closure of schools in mid-June has meant that these sessions haven’t taken place yet, but when they do, it’s estimated that more than 27,000 people will indirectly benefit.
Pray for teachers and students as they implement what they’ve learned about COVID safety, which will help to protect the wider school community as well.
Give thanks for Diaconia Response’s work to keep young people and their families safe as COVID numbers increase.
Image above: HEFO director Anania Ncube hands over blankets and other items for use at the Dakamela Clinic, which is operating as a COVID-19 isolation centre.
Over the years, Tearfund’s Christian partner HEFO has partnered with the Dakamela Clinic in Nkayi District in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe. HEFO supported Dakamela Clinic to get it fit for purpose to run as a COVID-19 isolation centre, and recently donated $13,500 worth of additional materials to ensure the clinic continues to be well equipped to accept COVID patients and isolate them. The donation included beds and blankets, sheets, gloves, face masks, sanitiser and utensils like pots and plates.
At the handover of donations, Matabeleland North’s Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo said: “HEFO is a local NGO rooted in Dakamela and working for the betterment of Dakamela community and this is greatly appreciated.”
Give thanks for HEFO’s work and that this generous and practical donation will enable the Dakamela Clinic to isolate COVID patients while they recover.
Please pray for the people of Zimbabwe as the country battles a third wave of COVID infections.
Supporting people caught up in Tigray emergency.
In November 2020, the people of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia found themselves caught up in a conflict between federal and regional government forces. Since then more than two million people have fled their homes due to the fighting, seeking safety in other parts of the region, or in neighbouring Sudan.
Recently the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its defence forces from Tigray. The Tigray Liberation Front took control of the capital Mekele and other cities following the withdrawal. This has led to increasing lawlessness and security concerns and a collapse in social services. Road transportation is being blocked, and communication and banking services are shut down.
Please pray for our partners, the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission and Tearfund Ethiopia, as they lead two emergency responses (with Tearfund’s support) that are aiming to provide food and shelter to more than 16,000 internally displaced people. While large parts of Tigray remain inaccessible, our partners are seeking to support families that are sheltering in schools in Mekele, as well as reaching others who have fled across Tigray’s eastern border into the neighbouring Afar region, where they have found shelter and support with local families. Displaced families in greatest need of food have been identified, and our partners are now exploring options for safely transporting emergency food supplies into Tigray and Afar.
Tearfund’s partner EFICOR is working hard to reach those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing cash grants to help people buy food and other essential items, distributing masks, soap and other hygiene items where they are needed, and offering rations for migrant workers who have lost their source of income. The longstanding relationships EFICOR has with these communities means its teams are well placed to provide the right support.
Atro Paharia is an agricultural labourer. In the non-agriculture season he usually migrates to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh for work. When the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed there, there was no work available and he had to return to his home state of Jharkhand, where he also struggled to earn a living. When EFICOR began its cash for work program there, it was a big relief. Atro was able to engage in work and earn some money for day-to-day essentials. The work he has been doing prepared his land for cultivation and will help improve the yield he gets.
In Renda village in Rajasthan, where EFICOR works as part of its Bhil Tribal Development project, many people have been affected by COVID-19, but there was general hesitation in the community about vaccination. Together, EFICOR’s project team and the local farmers’ groups and Self-Help Groups mobilised the people. Through awareness-raising and information sharing activities they were able to address many of the doubts and apprehensions people had. EFICOR conducted a vaccination camp in Renda village which saw more than 200 men and women come forward for vaccination.
Tearfund partners with the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) in India. EHA has been working with communities in Aligarh, Agra and Champa, urban areas which are being heavily impacted by the country’s second wave of COVID-19. EHA is providing cash support for medications and nutrition to treat COVID, and food relief packages for families.
Bhuri, the head of an organisation for people with disability that EHA partners with in Agra, was supported by EHA to start a tailoring business from his home in order to supply some of the most vulnerable people in his community with masks, and to give employment and a sense of meaning and purpose to some of the women in the area. A group of 15 women started gathering each day and in less than a month had stitched more than 3300 masks. They have also branched out into making handbags. The lives of these 15 women have changed in the course of a few months. They’ve been empowered by being part of this unit, and have also started giving courses on stitching to other women in their free time.
Myanmar is experiencing a humanitarian, economic and health crisis as a result of February’s military coup and the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing conflict, particularly in ethnic minority areas, as well as severe socio-economic disruptions, are exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition. The United Nations World Food Program estimates that an additional 3.4 million people across Myanmar are at risk of food insecurity, particularly in urban centres.
Conflict-driven displacement is rising sharply. As of 15 June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that over 195,000 people have been internally displaced in at least eight out of 14 regions across Myanmar – the number more than tripled within a month.
The COVID-19 crisis is deepening, with more virulent coronavirus strains appearing, including the Delta variant. New cases have been reported in 90 per cent of all townships. Shortages of doctors, nurses, hospital beds, and oxygen supply are being experienced across the country.
As the Delta strain spreads across south-east Asia, Indonesia’s health systems are under pressure. Please join us in praying for the work of Tearfund’s partners in Indonesia, Yasera and Yasumat.
When the COVID-19 pandemic kept sixth-grader Isi (pictured) from attending school, she put her spare time to good use. Isi and her family are part of Yasera’s Family Strengthening project in Indonesia’s Papua province. Isi started attending weekly health meetings with her mother. When Yasera distributed vegetable seeds to families, Isi helped her mother with cultivating land and planting crops. She was so happy when crops started to flourish as a result of their work. Isi was able to make a profit from selling what she harvested, and used the money she made to buy school materials.