Feb 18, 2021

Hunger & Food Insecurity is Widespread in St Lucia

COVID-19 arrived at a time of unprecedented need, with a record number of people already requiring humanitarian assistance at the beginning of 2020 as poverty levels have been rising steadily prior to covid-19, with a number of women headed households losing their jobs, people are going hungry on a daily basis and many more are experiencing acute food insecurity since May 2020.

CONSTRAINED ability of women to feed themselves and their families before and during this covid-19 pandemic is already affecting large sections of our population; price increases further inhibit equitable access to quality nutritious food. Increasing rates of infection and widespread fear of infection, coupled with restrictive social distancing measures, are affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations the most. These issues will lead to more severe food insecurity and higher rates of malnutrition in the long term for poor families. This will place more stress on poor families to make ends meet when they are hit by higher food costs and a drop in informal job opportunities. Moreover, spiking food prices could potentially lead to social unrest and instability.

Severe lockdown approaches over the last few months/weeks are not supported by broad and inclusive social protection systems to protect and provide basic needs for families and individuals whose livelihoods have been disrupted. The Government of Saint Lucia has not initiated mitigating strategy and these sudden and possibly extended measures have the potential to be catastrophic to poor families. As COVID-19 evolves, so too must responses, moving from blanket approaches to more flexible, contextually feasible strategies such as flexible lockdowns may be a more effective approach, a pro-poor model of social distancing, especially for highly vulnerable groups with limited resources and resilience should prove beneficial to families and the Government.

We have moved to a more targeted approach to food distribution i.e. we review every request and make a decision to assist with food parcels as we do not have the capacity to do large scale food distribution because of lack of funding and donations.

Nov 10, 2020

WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF SAFE SPACES

 

Since lockdowns first began in April of 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were fearful that domestic abuse victims would have been at additional peril because of the limited number of safe spaces and services provided even during normal times. While we sounded the alarm prior and during calls to stay home regarding the potential increase cases of intimate partner violence no attention was given to the matter by central government, now, those fears are coming to fruition. Reports of domestic violence have spiked in many communities and women and children have no additional resources to access. 

We do not have the necessary capacity as an NGO to house all those who request help, therefore in our daily interventions with victims who still reside in the same dwelling as their abusers we encounter:

  • Abusers attempt to further isolate and control victims;
  • Abusers frighten victims by promoting fear of contracting COVID-19 if the victims seeks help outside the home;
  • State Shelters are full and unable to assist victims most of the time;
  • Victims also expressed fear of going into shelters for fear of being exposed to COVID-19;
  • Restrictions ennacted due to COVID-19 impacts victim’s escape and safety plan.

We work with victims who we cannot house due to limited capacity by

  • Assisting victims to create a safety plan to outline ways to remain safe while they are in the same space as their abuser
  • An escapte plan if they have alternative shelter and are planning to leave
  • We provide assistance to them if they get alternate shelter by providing food and in some cases utilites and short term rental support;
  • We encourage self-care as much as possible, such as meditation, music, etc 
  • We maintain constant daily contacts and we encourage social connections through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media platforms as much as is practicable.

The pandemic has limited our ability to arrange fundraising activities and it is practically impossible to acquire additional rented space on our current budgets. More donations will allow us to  do so but we cannot prevail without your help and donations.

Nov 10, 2020

SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN ARE MORE AT RISK NOW

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered many changes in the home, at school and accessing services, from April 2020—some major, like learning remotely from home, and some minor, like sitting farther apart on the school bus or in the class room. While most students have had routines interrupted, the children perhaps most affected by that disruption are special education students.

Generally special needs children and their families depend on a structured routine—and that’s gone. It’s now parents who must establish that routine, and there is no prescription for what that looks like in during COVID-19 and beyond.

As a result, both parents and  special needs children have struggled through a trial-and-error process to find what works—and what doesn’t—to encourage their children to engage with virtual education and/or in-person education is more difficult and different than it did before COVID-19.

While parents who are marginalized and could not get daycare, school and full time jobs were already struggling this is another war for survival. Parents now have become the school, the teachers, the lunch monitors, the school nurse, the recess monitor, and now they’re also becoming the researcher as they try out different routines and these varying roles has been incredibly stressful for both parents and child.

A lot of the questions that parents and guardians have is where do I get help and assistance with basic things such as food, disposable diapers, formula, etc. Parents of special needs children have been consistently and completely overwhelmed from working, juggling the school from home and work from home balance is very, very difficult for them coupled with economic hardships made worst by COVID-19

In dealing with this whole cascading nightmare where many parents felt they didn’t have any assistance from state agencies  while historically many schools and other state agencies provided very little in terms of special education or services parents are dealing with lack of basic items.

This is a double-edged sword. This is giving special needs parents a much bigger burden, it’s tough for all parents right now, but it’s even tougher for parents of children with special needs.

You donation will help a small number of special needs children get basic items and we thank you.

Over the last 8 months we have provided food, disposible diapers and clothing to 9 families with special needs children and we want to continue supporting them and more. 

 
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