Dear Friends of Operaion Mercy,
These last few days many things had their first anniversary of the COVID time, we would have never through that we need such a long breath and perseverance to get through this and maintain the work and hope we are all about.
But with your help we have done so! This week I am also receiving the annual reports from all our countries so here are three examples of how your help has been put into practice through our
Winning in the 2nd Half: North Macedonia
COVID-19 has ravaged North Macedonia in many ways during 2020. They say that Macedonia always loses in the second half. Certainly, in the first months (March, April and most of May), it seemed that the pandemic was being well-managed and under-control. Curfews were observed and case numbers were down. But the summer deteriorated and by mid-autumn, the country and its medical system would be fully overrun. Numbers spiked. People with disease were not being treated, while horror rumors were circulating about healthy people going into hospitals and not coming out alive. North Macedonia emerged as one of the top ten nations in the world in terms of death rate per million inhabitants.
Yet even in this “second half”, there was still a chance to make a difference and step towards the uncertainty, chaos and brokenness. OPM were making food and hygiene distributions through our community and project networks. We partnered with North Macedonia FoodBank and the local municipality to extend our resources and reach into the north of the city. This meant we were getting to more people who were truly in need and sometimes isolated. A single woman was in tears, as we stayed with her for a meal – just for being remembered by somebody in the crisis. We were able to deliver to a senior lady who had poor road access to the city. Others we located were alone with no diaspora support. Another wife´s husband was trapped unable to earn or return from the diaspora, because of Covid-19. The outreach also meant locating households in the poorest part of town, where socially isolated women could hear about joining the skills and vocational learning community another project through which we restore hope, grow capacity and promote community.
Operation Mercy was able to provide food relief which was desperately needed due to COVID19 and quarantine which resulted in loss of income and higher food prices.As a sparking freedom team, we were able to give out 43 food parcels to women under sexual exploitation in one week! This is the by far that most women that we have ever seen in one week. We were amazed that the ladies were even prepared to give us their (real) addresses and telephone numbers so that we can follow up with them and continue to build relationships.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we decided to prioritize doing lessons about how to prevent COVID-19 and what to do if anyone in the family became sick. One of the participants reported, “I wash my hands more than before and encourage my family members to do so. I asked my children not to touch everything outside and use hand sanitizers when they couldn’t avoid touching things. We are all wearing masks, disinfecting our household using bleach and keeping social distance outside”.
The participants had been encouraged to share their answers with others and 42 people shared with about 580 people. Two participants shared what they had learned about COVID to a wider audience on the radio. One of them reported, “I used this knowledge when giving a speech on the radio for people with disabilities – especially people with visual impairments. I know that this radio Program has an audience of at least 3000 people.” One of the participants later said, “You were the first people who taught us about COVID. We already understood from your lessons about the importance of clean hands – washing hands and antiseptic and masks. We are grateful that you came and taught us early on!” Our lessons grew the capacity of participants and enabled them to tell others and equip them to stay safe.
AS I write this the situation in our project countries differs greatly – some places are back to almost normal life, due to not having the resources to survive another lock down or because the situation is really better, hard to say. Others are back in lock down, some are starting with vaccinations but for most the road to that is still long.
Awareness raising and advocacy for the vaccination is going to be the focus of our COVID 19 work imbedded into our health, empowerment and WASH projects – or standing alone in the next months. Thanks for continuing to partner with us.
Together we restore Hope, grow capacity and promote community – even in COVID 19 days.
Yours Andrea Vogt