Maraki at home during social worker's visit
BHE continues to support orphaned and vulnerable children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has caused significant impact on health, economy and daily operations in almost every country. After the first case in Ethiopia was identified on March 13, the government had been taking steps to fight the spread of the Coronavirus in line with international action.
Nationally, schools have been closed since March 16 and a State of Emergency was declared on April 8 to last for five months. In accordance with government actions and regulations, BHE has suspended its regular services such as tutorials and group counseling sessions at the drop in center. These also include daily after school meals and guardian meetings. Yet, we are finding new ways of continuing to support our families during this time until regular services and schools can be resumed.
Raising Awareness, Basic Needs and Hygiene Support
The key messages in the prevention of COVID-19 have been to wash hands regularly, wear face masks while in public and keep social distancing. Despite difficulties in accessing adequate sanitation, BHE has been helping families ensure they can protect themselves. As the virus affects those with medical conditions and low immunity the most, we believe it is key for vulnerable families to know how to protect themselves.
BHE has provided the families with additional food support and financial support to mitigate rising food prices and disruptions in their livelihoods caused by restrictions on transportation. It is important to ensure children continue to receive daily meals at home that they don't have in school. BHE has also been providing extra hygiene materials including hand sanitizers and soap.
Children, youth and guardians who have medical conditions are encouraged to follow up their health. Government health care centers are providing telephone follow ups for those who had in person follow up appointments to decrease their exposure. So far, all our beneficiaries needing care are taking their medications regularly and are in good health.
Studying At Home, Library Support, Counseling and Follow Up
As students have to stay home and follow their education remotely, BHE is working to ensure they continue to have basic needs and follow up. We are routinely assessing the vulnerability and risks each family is faced with during this time. Children and youth are following their studies from home through TV and radio education.
This year BHE has 5 students under its program who will take the 8th grade national exam and 3 students taking the 12th grade national exam. As the exams are planned to take place in a few months, BHE is providing the students with model exams and material to help them study from home.
We also regularly encourage the children and youth to follow their studies by reading and following educational programs. They are able to borrow books from the BHE library that they can read at home. Lemma, a special needs student in 12th grade is provided with materials through the mobile app 'Telegram' by his school.
BHE’s Social Worker has been making regular calls and home visits to each household to follow their well-being, find out their needs and ensure each child follows their education. Children or youth in need of counseling and guidance are also able to discuss any issues they have during the calls and visits.
Some guardians have lost customers and their work due to lack of supply, rising prices and transportation restrictions. Others who earn their living by washing clothes in the community have not been able to work. However, most of our guardians are staying resilient with some continuing their trade and others finding different work while taking precautions.
While BHE's services have had to temporarily adapt to overcome this difficult time, we are strengthened by our ability to continue to provide essential and holistic support during this difficult time including food, hygiene, health, shelter, awareness and counseling support.
"I deeply thank our donors, staff and volunteers for continuing to support our work during this difficult time. I urge everyone to stay safe and well, my prayers go out to those affected by COVID-19." - Koni Yimer, Managing Director, BHE
Leul in his new home following education on TV
Lemma and his dad being safe at home
Lemma following his education using his computer
Maraki showing hand washing prevention of COVID-19
Sofia's family receiving emergency food, pad, soap