Aug 17, 2020

Summertime in Gjirokaster

Dear Friends, 

In the hilly, historic city of Gjirokaster, summers are hot, and people continue navigating restrictions on gathering designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. For Nehemiah Gateway's soup kitchen there, this has meant feeding people in shifts, with only a few people eating at once. Our popular summer camp for local youth was cancelled. The Roma children who participate in our school support/after school program miss coming to the soup kitchen every afternoon for activities and social time with their friends, but our team is bringing meals to their homes and checking in with the children regularly. The school year is currently scheduled to start on September 14, and a model involving "blended learning" is likely to educate children with a mix of classroom and virtual learning.

The Roma children in our program come from very poor families-- some of them live in tents. It will be challenging (to put it mildly) for them to participate in online learning without computers or even, in some cases, electricity. The NG Gjirokaster team is working to support them so that they do not fall behind.

You can still help them-- donations to this project will help them stay connected to school with help from our team.

Hoping that you are all staying well, and keeping your spirits up in this difficult time.

All best wishes,

Sarah

Jun 29, 2020

Helping People Through The Crisis

Dear friends--

When Albania went into a nationwide lockdown in early March, Nehemiah Gateway worked with donors, GlobalGiving, and the City of Pogradec to expand the reach of its longstanding aid delivery program. The people we normally help--people who are old and alone, struggling with chronic health conditions, or trapped in a cycle of poverty-- continued needing aid. Many Albanians who live from day to day found themselves needing help as well, as their precarious livelihoods were put on hold by the lockdown. During March and April of 2020, Nehemiah Gateway delivered over 1000 aid parcels to people in need in Pogradec and Gjirokastër. 

At present, lockdowns in Albania have been substantially lifted. Nonetheless, the In Albania, Food and Medicine for the Poor program continues providing basic aid deliveries to society's most vulnerable-- and will continue doing so as long as aid is needed. This support saves lives-- especially in the era of COVID-19. By safely delivering necessities to people with chronic health conditions, we are helping them limit their exposure to other people, and thus their risk of infection.

With cases of COVID-19 increasing in Albania, it will become increasingly important to help vulnerable people stay home. And, if another lockdown occurs, In Albania, Food and Medicine for the Poor will be prepared to step up again to help the communities it serves. 

We are grateful for your support of this progam. 

Be well,

Sarah Pita

Jun 3, 2020

Getting Creative During the Lockdown

Esmerelda is a student at Amaro Tan. Homework!
Esmerelda is a student at Amaro Tan. Homework!

Dear Friends, 

This spring offered unprecedented challenges for students and teachers everywhere-- including Albania. After the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Albania in early March, the whole country quickly locked down. Schools and universities closed their doors, and stringent restrictions on movement were implemented. 

Nehemiah Gateway's schools closed along with all the rest during that time, sending children home and tasking teachers with figuring out how to keep the learning going at a distance. At Nehemiah Gateway University, with its international student body and professors from all over the world, Zoom was already a well established platform for classroom discussions. In tandem with the Populi classroom management platform, professors were able to keep teaching from afar, to students learning at a distance from one another. 

Nehemia School, our private K-12 school, migrated to Zoom as well. Many students at Nehemia School have some sort of access to technology, so this worked fairly well. Teachers worked one-on-one with those students lacking technology at home, but most were able to access online group learning somehow.

Amaro Tan, and the children in the Gjirokaster school program, faced more challenges. Coming from families that were already living in poverty when the crisis hit, few of these children had access to computers or tablets at home. Many of them didn't even have access to cell phones or television, to access the Albanian government's televised lessons. For these students, teachers worked overtime, in many cases tutoring individual students on borrowed telephones to help them continue learning. They also brought food aid to each child's family throughout the crisis.  Staff in Gjirokaster and at Amaro Tan report that these children may have missed school the most-- missed seeing their friends, missed being around their teachers, and missed the clean, safe, and predictable atmosphere at school. 

As of June 1, preschool and kindergarten students are back in school. Over the summer, we plan to expand socially distanced, phased summer school offerings for all ages, and especially at Amaro Tan, to help keep the children engaged. 

Although the picture for school year 2020-2021 is unclear, NG will follow or exceed all requirements and best practices to keep staff and students safe-- and keep them learning.

With gratitude,

Sarah Pita

Nehemia students made 100 masks for local hospital
Nehemia students made 100 masks for local hospital
Amaro Tan kindergarteners are happy to be back!
Amaro Tan kindergarteners are happy to be back!
Students at NGU
Students at NGU
 
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