Hello from India. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy in these unprecedented days of Corona virus. Like most of the planet we are now on lock down which is having a significant impact on how we operate our projects.
Schools have been closed since the start of the week and today in Ahmednagar, where we operate, all shops and non-essential businesses have been closed. So far we only have three cases in our district but we are pleased that precaution measures are being put in place. While we don’t want to dwell on the pandemic we do want to reassure you that we are prioritising the health and wellbeing of our beneficiaries. This includes closing the slum schools you support until at least 31 March (the current date the government has directed). Fortunately we were nearing the end of exam season so most of our children have been able to complete their end of year assessments.
Obviously living in a slum makes social distancing impossible so our staff have been using their time to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the virus and promoting hand-washing, hygiene and other health precaution measures to the communities. The children have been provided their school books to work from home and our team are also preparing for the next academic year by reviewing and updating our highly successful curriculum which we brought in four years ago.
We have also closed our English Medium School based in the Rehabilitation Center where we shelter over 200 children, including around 100 who are HIV+ and are considered ‘high risk’. We are using the ‘break’ to continue to hone the basics of reading, writing and maths that will consolidate our children’s learning once schools reopen. We have also developed a program of extra-curricular activities to keep their bodies and minds active, including Lego competitions which have identified a huge number of future engineers and architects!
All of our projects are now closed to non-essential visitors and we have placed hand-washing and sanitising materials at all entry points for staff and beneficiaries entering each day. Our Childline team has also distributed free masks to all of our children.
There are many other measures being taken across our 22 projects, all with the health of the most vulnerable and at risk of our beneficiaries at the core. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary. We truly appreciate all of your support during these challenging times and hope you are assured that we are as committed as always to meeting the specific needs of our beneficiaries in response to the current ever-changing environment.