COVID19 has brought enormous challenges to communities around the globe and ours have not been the exception. In Cartagena, where we operate, the cases of COVID19 have been on the rise for the past week at a pace that seems out of control. Although this situation does impact the way we work and serve the kids, it by no means stops us from getting creative and raise to the challenge for the benefit of our children. Below is a recount of some extraordinary steps that the team in the fields took to continue transforming the lives of our kids amid COVID19.
Food stamps: First, let me start by describing the environment in which we operated in the last three months. 1) We could not continue gathering the kids in our facilities for food and activities as there was a government order in place that prohibited public gatherings of any size. 2) Buying food in large quantities for later distribution became infeasible due to the unavailability of certain food products. 3) We knew that giving cash directly to the families wouldn’t be prudent as it is well known that some adults in those families may misuse the resources for alcohol abuse at the expense of the kids’ food. The challenge was dire, but we rise to the occasion. With a bit of creativity, we found a simple solution that worked very well:food stamps! Those can be bought in the grocery stores and be given to the families for them to exchange them for food (about 10 days’ worth of food supplies per stamp). Moreover, we were able to set the food stamps in a way that restricted them to be used for food only, and therefore mitigated the risk of misuse.
Continued learning: Food is one part of the problem; the other challenge was on how to keep the communication with the kids and their families. For this, we also have to use our ingenuity, given that most moms don’t have access to communication platforms due to limited internet access, we loaded their phones with internet packages for us to be able to reach them and continue given them support. We even managed to send online resources for the kids to continue their English learning process!
Before COVID19: Below are some of the activities that we carried out before the COVID pandemic hit our city.
Child abuse prevention training: We trained the moms to identify and prevent a situation that may put their kids at risk of sexual abuse.
Artistic activities: We facilitated spaces and resources for the kids to develop their artistic skills.
Learning English: We worked hard at motivating and equipping the kids to learn English as a second language. We believe that this is a powerful tool that can open doors for them in the long term.
Reading class: Promoting good reading habits leveraging our volunteers and newly donated learning resources.
COVID19 prevention training: Before COVID19 hit our city, we spent time with the moms educating them on preventive measures such as the correct way to washing the hands.
With a bit of creativity and a lot of love, we managed to serve our kids during exceptionally challenging times. We would not be able to do all of this without you, and we are immensely grateful for your partnership. Now, even more than ever before, your contributions are making a substantial difference in our kids and their families. Please keep supporting us during this health crisis which affected the poor and the needy the most.
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