Pupils at Pizz School in Zambia
Ever since its inception almost thirty years ago, Hands Around The World has been about building friendships. We work in partnership with people we know well and seek to have a mutual understanding of the aims and challenges of the projects we support. Face to face contact through visits from our volunteers and staff has always been an important way of maintaining that understanding and achieving a good level of accountability to each other. During these days of restricted travel we have had to rely on technology for communication, this has highlighted problems for our partners caused by lack of equipment, wifi and electricity. We have been able to identify needs and seek to meet them both in terms of immediate help and future planning. Regular video calls combined with phone, text and email have helped us to continue to offer not just practical help, but also the encouragement and emotional support that our partners have sometimes needed.
We are relieved and delighted that, at the time of writing, none of our projects has reported cases of Covid 19 within the direct community they serve. This does not mean that there has been no impact, there have undoubtedly been serious issues to address. Schools have been closed for varying periods of time, leaving children especially vulnerable to everything from malnutrition to unwanted pregnancy. In order to mitigate problems our partners have temporarily changed some of their ways of working, adapting to current needs. They have supplied food to the children in lieu of the school lunches they are missing, in some cases extending that support to families and the wider community. Food distribution also helps to maintain contact with vulnerable children which supports their general well-being.
Fundraising has inevitably been more of a challenge recently and we are, as ever, deeply grateful to those who help to finance the work of Hands Around The World. In some ways Covid 19 unifies and breaks down barriers, this is a common enemy and accentuates the need for global friendships. In other ways this disease only increases the disadvantages given to some children by an accident of birth. Being born into poverty in an area where subsistence living is the norm makes everything harder. Thank you for helping us redress the balance a little. Let's keep working together to offer better life chances to children everywhere.
Learning outside at Irindiro Special School, Kenya
Playing on the swing at Chez Papa Geoff, Benin
Back to school before the latest lockdown in India
Small study meet at Kaliyangile, Zambia