As the world responds to the many changes that COVID-19 has brought, each community is adapting to its own new realities. In Guatemala, the first cases appeared in mid-March; the national government quickly established measures like closing schools, prohibiting public bus transportation, shutting the borders, limiting businesses and shops, and establishing a curfew. To ensure the safety and well-being of Pueblo a Pueblo staff and the people we serve, we postponed all face-to-face meetings and trainings and started working remotely.
All of these measures have helped reduce the spread of cases, but have also significantly impacted the daily life and economic stability of many Guatemalans. In the communities we serve, many individuals are part of the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism to support their families. The restrictions in place to help combat COVID-19 have also led to widespread food insecurity among our community members.
Although schools have shifted to remote classes and school buildings remain closed, we continue to support the students that are receiving sponsorships. We have also been in touch with school principals and teachers to remain aware of the current challenges as well as the upcoming needs of students and their families. Our School Nutrition project has been greatly impacted by these school closures, as families traditionally participate in onsite nutrition trainings. However, we have conducted some online trainings as well as created some short videos to raise awareness on topics that are important in the communities we work in.
Pueblo a Pueblo analyzed both the short and long term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the communities we serve, and identified the most immediate problems to be heightened food insecurity and loss of family income. These challenges will, in the long run, impact the quality of education, health and nutrition amongst our community members. To reduce immediate food insecurity we set up donation drives, with help of some matching grants, to collect funds and distribute food baskets to prioritized families. Many of our sponsored students, youth leaders, and local project support workers have benefitted from these food baskets!
Amidst these challenging times, Pueblo a Pueblo is committed to adapting our plans to meet the changing needs of our communities. As always, our priority is working with communities to ensure positive, lasting impact, and as we continue to adapt, we will provide food baskets to families in the communities we serve.