Our focus continues to put the well-being of each child first. But to be blunt, the overall situation is very difficult.
Here is an update on the current situation, our work, and the impact of the pandemic in the countries we serve, our schools, and what our strategies are. We are faced with rapid changes that require us to make decisions quickly and to be flexible. Changes that may force us to face how some of our programs operate and the need to pivot.
The virus situation in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Nepal is not good. India now has one of the highest case rates in the world, and the numbers are understated since testing is nonexistent in poor communities. The big issue is that millions of laborers, farm workers and poorer communities have no work and do not receive any government assistance.
People are dying from lack of food. Last week, near a large school in Bangladesh over 75,000 clothing workers were laid off. Nationally, that number is likely more than 400,000 caused by the downturn in clothing orders from the United States and Europe. These workers receive the lowest wages while supporting other family members. There is no government assistance for them. The outlook is grim!
Child Impact-sponsored children are in Adventist Mission schools. Those schools receive their income from paying and sponsored students, which, depending on the school, sponsorship can be from 5 to 65 percent of the income. The collected funds are what pay for the operation of the school, but with no paying students, the schools are struggling, and most of them are faced with a financial crisis. Many teachers have not received any form of income for two months or more – income that provides their families with food.
While government officials in all countries state that schools will open soon, the reality is that no one knows when that will happen. In addition, we do not know what types of regulations will be enacted for boarding schools regarding social distancing.
Currently, our process is to do all we can to contact the children and then either send them half of the sponsorship funds to help the family or send them food directly. We believe that this huge logistical exercise is already in place for over 60 percent of the children impacted.
Some have asked why schools are being paid during lockdown without students. That is a fair question. It is critical to keep the school running, so that when it reopens, essential supplies and the necessary staff will be there for the students. This task has been challenging to continue and may result in the closure of some schools.
Through your generous support we have implemented the following:
- Provided emergency food and rice to over 1,500 teachers, workers & pastors in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Nepal.
- Provided emergency food or allowance to over 2,500 students who are locked down at home.
- Provided medical equipment, created school plans with procedures to be available for when they reopen.
- Building rice and food reserves for boarding schools to be able to feed students and staff when they reopen.
- Near places where we operate, assisted local communities with emergency food.
None of these plans could have been carried out and achieved without your commitment and generous support in providing urgently needed funds to help the children. As we continue to put the children first and review the situation weekly, please continue your greatly appreciated financial support.
I am sincerely grateful to you for your donations and support throughout this year; and am thankful to God for His leading. Here at home we face challenges, but in many places where we operate, they face dire situations where the people are going hungry or dying. ALL OF US MUST PRAY.
Our “Rice and Health” appeal will continue for as long as necessary. Feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
We pray for God to bless you and keep you safe, especially during these times of uncertainty. We also ask Him to continue guiding us at Child Impact as we manage projects and work with the schools.
Please continue to pray for us, the children, and the communities that we serve.
Jim Rennie, CEO Child Impact International