This month we connect with three of our partners for a more detailed look at how COVID-19 continues to impact vulnerable communities around the world.
While our local news cycles are beginning to concentrate on other things, the spread of coronavirus is ramping up in nations that face the challenges of poverty. As you read these updates, please hold our partners and their communities in prayer.
With support from TEAR Australia, EFICOR has reached 4105 families with COVID-19 relief support and awareness. EFICOR continues to reach out to migrant families, daily wage labourers, people living with HIV/AIDS, and people living with disabilities.
This account from EFICOR’s response in another region (supported by organisations other than TEAR) gives a sobering glimpse into the situation faced by migrant workers:
"One of the families we met walking on the road informed us that they have to travel 500 kilometers to reach their village after being unemployed for 3 months; they have been on the road for a few days now and would still continue their journey.
Rajender (name changed), the head of a family of eight members including little children and a pregnant daughter, mentioned that they had been walking on the road for two days with nothing to eat. As the sole breadwinner of the family and deprived of work, he thought it wise to return to his native place along with his family members."
We have been deeply encouraged to hear the ways that community members, transformed and equipped by EFICOR’s work, have been agents of compassion and generosity to those around them.
In 2009, Nageswara Rao attended EFICOR’s Community Transformation training, which had a transformative impact on his thinking and outlook towards poor and vulnerable people in society. “Before, I used to think that we should [just] bring everyone to Christ. But because of the integral mission training, I understood why and how we should [also] be involved in social issues. I praise God for the opportunity to learn during this course.”
As needs have multiplied in his community due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nageswara Rao has been active in reaching out and serving people, fueled by the values instilled in him through EFICOR’s training over a decade ago. Recently he encountered 40 migrants, including 20 children and 3 pregnant women, stranded on the outskirts of his village in Andhra Pradesh. With no place to rest and deprived of food and water, they had taken shelter in an open field. Filled with compassion towards them, Nageswara Rao immediately provided them food and also facilitated shelter for them through local officials.
Along with our small house church I mobilized funds from friends and family and started supporting people in every possible way. It’s because of His mercy we can do it.
He also distributed dry rations to 355 families in his area who had lost their jobs during the lockdown. On another occasion, he supported labourers migrating on foot with food, water and provisions for their long journey.
EFICOR’s Community Transformation course, which Nageswara Rao participated in, has been funded by TEAR supporters for well over a decade. It’s an incredible example of the long term and far-reaching impact that your partnership can have, and we are thankful for every TEAR supporter whose generosity and prayers help to further the transformative work of our partners.
COVID-19 is not the only issue posing health risks for communities in Laos. As the rainy season begins in June, dengue and malaria are leading concerns for the population. At the end of May, World Concern Lao PDR (WCL) launched an essential response to meet urgent water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) needs and prevent potential epidemic outbreaks, while ensuring better access to essential health services.
WCL teams distributed WASH essentials to a total of 1,436 families in eight villages in Phonthong district, Champasack province. Every family received 12 pieces of soap, a water bucket, a spray bottle, bleach, and information material about COVID-19 prevention. The kits will help families sanitise their homes and practice effective and consistent handwashing.
As well as supporting local families, WCL continues to connect with and equip their network of village development committees (VDC) to reach further into the community. They’ve given VDC leaders supplies of face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a temperature scanner. “These items are beneficial as we monitor the health status of our constituents,” shared one VDC leader.
WCL’s response reflects how the coordination with other local organisations and bodies helps to strengthen the positive impacts for the community. “No other organizations in the villages have distributed any WASH supplies in the community since the beginning of the pandemic. WCL and District Health Office (DHO) are consistently working together to improve the health status of the community, especially in the time of the pandemic”, shared Dr. Somsouk, a representative of Phonthong DHO.
As our partners have mobilised in very practical ways to respond to the spread of COVID-19, it’s been encouraging to be reminded of their motivation and heart in doing so. Our partner Partnership for New Life (PNL) in Nepal shares that their response is driven by the desire "to show God's love to people; to keep mutual coordination and healthy relationship with local government; to provide foodstuffs to needy people in the right time; and to partner with local government."
PNL provided support for 100 families, 40 of whom are members of self-help groups connected to the project. All have been impacted by the lockdown which is hampering their ability to earn an income and meet their basic needs. Each family received a relief package of 20kg rice, 2kg dal, 1kg salt, 2 litres oil, 2 dettol soaps and paracetamol. In the process of this response, good relationships have been built among the community and between local social workers, representatives, advisors and SHG leaders.
One SHG leader shared:
"We show our gratitude to PNL. Due to COVID-19, the government started a lockdown, because of which we are not able to get daily wages. We didn't have foodstuffs – but now we have got rice, oats, lentils, soap, medicines. If still the lockdown gets extended, we won't be able to meet our basic needs. So, what shall we do?"
Please join us in thanking God for PNL, and all of our partners, who are faithfully present with their communities for the long haul. As well as meeting basic needs and providing practical relief for struggling families, they are doing so as an expression of the love of our faithful and present God.
We are thankful to our partner United Mission to Nepal, who have recently shared the bible verses included in this update.
We are grateful for the support of the Australian Government, which helps to fund the work of EFICOR and World Concern Laos through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).