As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we’re responding across 50 countries with an aim of reaching 50,000 communities. In some, we even have a head-start, before any cases of Coronavirus have yet been reported.
Our response involves delivering hygiene kits and life-saving health and hygiene information and advice to families and communities. We’re also working to ensure out-of-school children can continue their education, by reaching teachers and community leaders remotely and distributing learning materials.
In Southern Africa, we’re working to ensure children affected by the climate-change induced food crisis can still get school meals, by delivering food along with COVID-19 health and hygiene advice to parents.
And our advocacy work continues - encouraging families to not place the burden of chores and care work on their daughters and making communities aware of the increased risk of gender-based violence during lockdown.
Here’s how we’re helping children and families across the globe.
Distributing hygiene kits in Guinea
31-year-old Rosaline lives in Guéckédou prefecture in southern Guinea, where the first case of Ebola was recorded in 2014.
For Rosaline, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought back memories of the Ebola epidemic which severely impacted the provision of healthcare services.
"Since we learned of the presence of this virus in our country all the households have resumed the practices at the time of Ebola and without waiting for help from anyone. Personally, as you can see in front of my house, all my children are already used to hand washing. And even if I am not at home, my children ask all visitors to wash their hands with soap before entering our yard,” Rosaline explains.
“In the time of Ebola, I lost eight members of my family. I lost my mother, two of my brothers, my uncle, three cousins and my childhood boyfriend. I just survived the disease, otherwise I wouldn't be alive today.”
Rosaline has joined the Guéckédou committee for coronavirus awareness set up by Plan International who were at the forefront of the fight against Ebola in the region. Handwashing kits have been installed at the entrance to 29 public buildings, including three mosques and three churches.
“I am confident that with these measures that we are observing, coronavirus will not have a place in our prefecture, and we hope to set an example to the other prefectures in Guinea. For the inhabitants of Guéckédou, Plan International is our first guardian, we are proud of this organisation which has always remained by our side during difficult times.”
Teaching children remotely in Jordan
Five-year old Tala and her classmates have had to stay away from school since the COVID-19 outbreak with schools keen to ensure the spread is contained.
In efforts to ensure that girls like Tala are still able to access education despite not going to school, Plan International Jordan has established new online methods to adapt and overcome the challenges pupils face due to the crisis.
Rola Shelbayeh, Field and Technical Coordinator has been reaching out to teachers and caregivers across 3 major cities in Jordan.
Each day numeracy and literacy educational videos are sent out to support teachers in reaching out to parents and caregivers to guarantee that kindergarten pupils are receiving their education at home.
“We are in contact with the teachers and parents to check on all the work and the students’ understanding via different applications such as Whatsapp, Telegram and phone calls, depending on their accessibility to the Internet or any other tool of communication.
“This [supports] teachers to do their job perfectly, not less than the traditional teaching in schools.” Says Rola.
Tala’s mother Manal speaks lovingly of the achievements of her beautiful and polite girl since the sessions began.
“She can already recite all the letters in English and Arabic, and can name all the colours as well as do basic maths," says Manal.
Finding new ways to support school meals in Zambia
With classrooms in Zambia closed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, concerns were raised that children who depend on school meals would become susceptible to malnourishment and other health risks.
Southern Africa is at the forefront of the global climate crisis and in Zambia alone, 2.3 million people are experiencing food insecurity.
“When the government of Zambia announced the indefinite closure of schools and universities following two positive laboratory tests of COVID-19 in the country, a sense of panic gushed through me as I realised the impact it would have to over 5,000 children who depend on the school feeding programme to eat,“ says Christopher Lungu, Plan International’s Programme Manager for Central Region.
To ensure children did not go hungry, adjustments had to be made to the programme. With the approval of the Zambian Ministry of Health, Plan International set up food distribution points located in schools to distribute food rations to parents.
“We had to act very quickly against a possibility of total national lock down,” explains Elliot Ncube, Child Protection in Emergency Coordinator.
While our emergency response team staff handed out the food rations at schools, Ministry of Health staff were able to provide parents with important information about COVID-19 to raise awareness of the dangers of the disease and teach the community how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.
Reaching rural villages in Cambodia
Plan International Cambodia is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development to conduct a country-wide campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable rural communities.
Our teams have been visiting villages in our working areas to raise awareness of the dangers of coronavirus through activities including playing audio messages in different ethnic minority languages, meeting with village community leaders to encourage them to promote good hygiene practices, distributing posters & leaflets and providing soap.
Cartoons to teach children how to tackle COVID-19 in Paraguay
Our offices in Latin America are pushing social media campaigns to spread vital information about COVID-19 particularly to children.
Campaigns have also included raising awareness of the increased risk of gender-based violence during lockdown, the importance of family co-responsibility in the household, and self-care during quarantine measures.