COVID-19 has thrown our programming, support and methorship of our girls in to a tail spin. With so many plans cancelled and the isolation that this pandemic brings, we have noticed an upsurge in:
- Domestic Violence and Neglect
- Loneliness and Depression
- Sexual and Physical Abuse
- Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts
We have had to make many adjustments over the past few months, to ensure our girls know we are still here for them by:
- Moving to 100% digital programming, by utilising WhatsApp groups, Webinar Sessions for Group and Individual Counselling and Mentorship, and Digital Sister Talks;
- Food supplies via our partners, so they get deliveries directly to their doors;
- Offering them the opportunity to express their feelings on everything happening via test, voicenote or video, that they can advacate for more support; and,
- Supply of borrowed devices and facilitation of educational tutoring, so our girls aren't left behind academically.
Message from one of our girls on how she's been coping during times of COVID-19:
"Just late last year Corona surfaced in China and in a matter of seconds it spread like wildfire. This is what I find most scary about the virus.
The safety of my family keeps plaguing my mind and the many ways in which this could end, if it ever does. I've felt the impact of Corona's presence more in the disruption of my academics and similar to most in the limited amount of movement afforded to me.
On nights when it is eerily quiet I wonder if I would feel any different than how I do now if I were to live alone. The thing is, isolation really gives room for self reflection but isolation with at least six other personalities present, feels like it breeds dysfunction more than anything.
Overall, I'm really just trying to keep my composure because it feels like even though Corona is the biggest threat here, she has really opened alot of doors, behind which it seems like relationships may be tested, resolves may be broken and just so much devastation is ensue. I just hope and pray things don't get anymore out of hand than they already have."
Challenges with some of our processes now is that:
- There are so many girls we serve that do not have electricity, let alone the internet or a device, in order to connect with us in some way;
- Due to the increase in all the social ills they are facing, and the fact we can not physically be present or engage as we are used to, we are forced to just collect as much stories as possible, that we can investigate, until it's time to apply solutions;
- In Barbados charities doing the very intrigral work that we are, aren't seen as essential services, which is something we are advocating to change, so when we hear of stories at odd hours in the night, we can't help directly, which is tough.
We have been able to reach, to date, approximately 60% of our beneficiaries, and of course will continue to work towards 100% engagement, by planning new ways to exist, while still keeping our team and girls safe; however, it will not be easy.
We look forward to your continued support, and thank you for remaining closely connected to our work, as we strive for positive impact, regardless of these challenges.
We can't wait to fully get back to our girls!!!