Sep 15, 2020

Slowing the Spread With Your Help

Thank you for your support of Concern Worldwide’s project to help the world’s poorest affected by COVID-19. With the help of people like you, Concern responded swiftly to slow the spread within vulnerable populations living in extreme poverty in our two dozen countries of operation

This includes Kenya, where we contributed to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services’ efforts in 80 health facilities and hotspot areas between four informal settlements in Nairobi County. We were able to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection materials for health and community workers, train 400 community health volunteers on COVID-19 prevention, and build confidence among providers and their clients.

At the Antenatal Care Clinic in Mathare North Health Center, health care workers faced many challenges during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and were afraid of being exposed to the virus due to lack of sufficient PPE. They were issued one mask per day with limited decontamination material and saw fear across board as the patients avoided hospital visits. There was a drastic reduction in the number of mothers attending the facility due to the fears of contracting COVID-19, from 40 to 20 women per day.

But after the clinic received support including PPE and training, word spread throughout the community of the improved safety procedures and the need to continue antenatal care. There has since been a significant increase in the number mothers attending the facility.

As the pandemic continues, Concern has witnessed first-hand its ripple effect on all areas of life from the general wellbeing of the mothers and their children to food security, education, and livelihoods. While our work strengthening health systems will continue to be needed, we are broadening our approach to COVID-19 for the long haul.

Millions more face hunger and malnutrition due to job losses, supply chain disruptions, and travel restrictions. Hard won gains increasing access to education for children around the world are being threatened by school closures, limitations to remote opportunities, and an economic climate that has forced many children to help support their families.

Thank you for helping make our early response to COVID-19 possible. I invite you to explore our ongoing approach to the pandemic and our work fighting extreme poverty on our website, concernusa.org.

Sep 3, 2020

Supporting Syrian Women and Children In Need

Women and children too often bear the brunt of poverty around the world. Concern knows we can’t address extreme poverty without focusing on their needs. The following experience of a Syrian refugee family exemplifies the kind of life-changing work your support makes possible.

A Path to Safety and Stability

Some three billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day, and 70 percent of them are women. Millions of women also face discrimination and abuse, and are denied access to education and economic opportunities.

Fatma* is a 32-year-old mother of five who has experienced all of these hardships in her young life. She never attended school growing up in Syria and married at a young age, having her first child at 18. The conflict forced Fatma, her children and husband to flee their home to start a new life in Turkey. During this time, Fatma was dealing with physical violence from her husband and psychological abuse from her brothers.

Fatma’s husband decided to move back to Syria and cancelled the temporary protection registration of the whole family, which allows them to receive financial assistance and access health care and education. Fatma decided to stay in Turkey with her children for safety, leaving her vulnerable and fending for the family alone.

Fatma’s neighbor connected her to Concern’s local Protection Hub, where she attended sessions on positive parenting and early marriage and connected with a legal counsellor for one-on-one support.

After sharing her story, Fatma started receiving support from Concern’s Protection Programme. Concern helped Fatma and her children reactive their temporary protection registration and find a safe place to live, paying three months of rent to help them to get on their feet. Household items such as mattresses, blankets, pillows, and a heater were also provided by Concern, as well as supermarket gift cards to buy food. For the first time, Fatma started to work and found a job selling vegetables.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has now temporarily suspended her employment so Concern has provided another three months of rent to ensure Fatma and her family are kept safe.

Empowering the Next Generation

Vulnerable children also need extra help to survive and thrive. Education is a basic human right and one so often denied to displaced children. It is critically important to breaking inter-generational cycles of poverty.

Fatma’s eldest child, a 12-year-old-boy, felt it was his duty to work in a small shop to support his mother and siblings after his father left. He is now taking part in Concern’s Education Fighting Child Labour Programme, and receives a monthly financial stipend to ensure the family meets its basic needs while he remains in school.

All of Fatma's 5 children are now enrolled at school, attending classes remotely during the pandemic.

Fatma and her children’s new life is completely unrecognizable from the way they was living mere months ago.

In her own words, “The circumstances that I experienced had made my life hell. However, I now have started to love life and to devote more attention to my children. Since I found Concern, I have experienced different paths to goodness and peace of mind.”

 

*For safety and security reasons, we have changed Fatma's name and did not show her or her family's faces.

Jul 6, 2020

COVID-19 in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

Handwashing in Cox's Bazar
Handwashing in Cox's Bazar

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh, where more than 900,000 refugees, including nearly 500,000 children, live on a site spanning less than 10 square miles. With a population-density far higher than Manhattan, physical distancing and self-isolation is almost impossible to put into practice and there is a huge risk that COVID-19 will spread rapidly through the community.

To compound the problem, over 10% of Rohingya refugee households have at least one individual above the age of five with a disability or chronic illness. Cholera, chicken pox, and diphtheria have previously broken out in the camp and there is high number of existing respiratory infections — 174,000 since January 2020 — leaving those affected extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

Concern is doing everything it can to continue operation while also respecting government-mandated restrictions. Double rations — enough to last an extra month — were distributed in advance of the shutdown and food stocks have been pre-positioned for distribution by Concern’s volunteer network within the camp to stave off the chronic threat of malnutrition.

The Concern team has also been working to make sure that those living in the camps have the facts about how the virus is spread and its effects, using nearly 250 trained Rohingya volunteers to counter dangerous misinformation.

A Concern-led consortium, designed to improved essential healthcare for disadvantaged communities, has moved quickly to create a simple and effective screening solution: an all-in-one mobile diagnosis and sample collection service.

Patients arriving at the mobile center receive free masks and hand sanitizer and are directed to a booth for consultation with a doctor via video call. If the patient is suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms, they are registered and referred to the sample collection booth. Trained staff then take a swab for laboratory testing. Currently the screening capacity is 150 samples per day and patients receive results within 48 hours. The service is provided free of charge.

Hasina Rahman, Concern’s acting Country Director in Bangladesh, says that this could be a very effective way to ramp up COVID screening across the country, especially in rural areas. “We are glad that we have been able to step up during this unprecedented crisis to support the government.” Given the population size and some of the access challenges, the task is enormous and the stakes are high.

Your support has helped Concern play a critical role in stemming the spread of COVID-19 among this particular vulnerable population. Thank you.

 
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