Hand Washing Station at Mae La Camp DARE Centre
DARE Network in the time of COVID 19
All of us at DARE Network hope you are safe and keeping that way for the unforeseeable future. Despite all the news, it is important that you put your health as a number one priority.
Likewise, at DARE Network we have had to come to grips with the reality of this ghost tiger that roams among us. It seems like we just slid into the situation that has taken the world by its collective throat. However, it is our only goal at this stage to prevent the virus from entering the refugee camps on the Thai/Burma Border and our DARE Centres there, as well as our DARE Centre in Karen State.
You can imagine the devastation of COVID in a refugee camp, where social distancing is impossible. At the height of our treatment cycle in Mae La Camp, for example, we might have up to 50-60 people all in one and half bamboo buildings, sharing everything. There are still almost 100,000 people in refugee camps along the border. DARE Treatment protocols are very hands on, up-close and personal. We realized the dangers immediately.
In addition, our staff in the camps and in Karen State move around giving prevention education, following up on clients and helping families understand the impacts of addiction.
We decided we needed to put everything on hold until it is safe to proceed again. Yet, in some of our centres we were in the middle of a treatment cycle. Our first line of defense was to stop all our acupuncture, herbal saunas and traditional massages. We broke our group work into smaller groups and rotated them so that there were no more than 10 people in one place at a time. Then social distancing was possible.
Most importantly, our core staff from Mae Sariang travelled to the camps, before they were shuttered by the Thai authorities, to provide Covid19 education to everyone in our teams and any clients that remained. We installed hygiene stations and taught hand washing in detail. We showed people how to cover their coughs and sneezes and not to spit (a cultural habit). We spread people out, as best we could. Our staff also went to Karen State to share the same education and to help our staff strategize on how to get food and cook safely. Our outreach program was stopped.
Now we are working through budgets to ensure that our program holds together, that our staff are retained and paid and that they have what they need to survive and stay safe. We want to thank all of our donors, who are standing by us during this challenging time.
All of us at DARE Network