The Professor Charles Effiong Foundation (PCEF) in the last quarter provided various services to the thirty (30) children and their caregivers it is currently supporting in Calabar.
Over the period of this report, the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused great disruption of services in almost every part of the world, shutting down business, religious and even educational institutions. Calabar, Cross River State is not an exception as the capital city was locked down. Income Generation Activities (IGAs), particularly those of low income earners who are mostly women were greatly affected which in turn cascaded to affect their caring capacity for the children in their care.
Children have been affected in diverse ways; raging from nutritional deficiencies due to inadequate food supply and nutrition; to abuse as well as an increase in incidences of gender based violence (GBV) particularly against girls’ and women (caregivers) by their male partners due to heightened frustration from low income and in most cases, loss of earning opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic being instrumental to the collapse of services, exacerbates the susceptibility of children and their caregivers to disease which sparked fear amongst people in the community with increasingly misleading information about the virus on social media spreading like wild fire.
The issues mentioned above necessitated the Professor Charles Effiong Foundation to provide services to complement the efforts of the International Community and the State Government to provide services as well as provide information to improve caregivers’ skills and abilities in caring for vulnerable children and their households. These information included menstrual and personal hygiene, water and sanitation, nutrition and health education, psychosocial support which provided adequate information they need to stay safe.
During the reporting period under review, The Professor Charles Effiong Foundation, using an interpersonal communication strategy, carried out house-to-house visits to the homes of the vulnerable children it is supporting to create awareness on COVID-19 safety measures which include maintaining social distances, Staying indoors and avoiding crowded places, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, the use of face masks, and constant handwashing with soap under running water. In order to ensure that households imbibe the handwashing culture, the PCEF team-taught caregivers and their children, how to produce local running water with the use of empty plastic rubbers.
The Foundation complemented the efforts of the caregivers in improving the nutritional dietary diversity of the children who are at home due to the pandemic with limited food supply to feed. These they did through the provision of food packs as palliatives. These food packs composed of rice, beans, seasonings like salt and Maggi, palm and groundnut oil, for fat and oil, soap and detergents, cassava flakes commonly called and known as garri.
While the cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, the lockdown has been eased and re-opening is in process, however, the ban on school gatherings has not yet been lifted which means that children will continue to stay at home with an increased burden and stress of care on the mothers and households. This means that children will become more vulnerable with limited caring resources due to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their parents, there is already a multiplication in the incidences of sexual exploitation on girls, their indulgence in risky behaviors and sexual activity further make them vulnerable to vices like teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, drug addiction most likely for the boys, thus the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your continued support will help save children especially the girl child from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and social vices by increasing the economic livelihood of caregivers in order to meet the basic needs of the children and households.
Unfortunately, the schools and families at this level do not have the infrastructure or facilities to conduct virtual learning. There are some programs being conducted by local radio which we encourage our beneficiaries to participate in. We are also exploring how we can support our caregivers to invest in providing some homeschooling for their children.
Thank you for your continuous support as we continue to explore viable options through this trying season.