At the heart of Tearfund is our calling to ‘remember the poor’. For Tearfund staff, it didn’t take long for us to realise that beyond the disruption of our day to day working lives in our Dublin office our overseas partners were facing a much bigger problem as Covid-19 made landfall in some of poorest countries on the planet. Our partners are working in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Uganda and with Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are densely packed into makeshift shelters waiting for peace and the possibility to return home. These are countries with much fewer resources than Ireland to face this pandemic – for example in Uganda it is estimated that there are more Government Ministers than ICU beds.
In many ways ‘it’s business as usual’ for our overseas partners as they continue to keep our poverty alleviation programmes functioning but now with the added challenges of travel restrictions and the meetings of our self help groups being forbidden – meetings which are the backbone to fragile livelihoods now facing an even bigger crisis. In Lebanon our church partners have had to cancel food and essential supply distributions that usually gather hundreds of people. They are now relying on church volunteers to manage ‘door to door’ deliveries of essential supplies, including more hygiene products to help protect households from Covid-19. We really need your help to continue this.
If you are not already giving monthly to our work, would you consider committing to a monthly gift over the next six months to carry our partners through this Covid-19 crisis?
Our friends in Tearfund in the UK estimate that it costs about £60 to provide a clean water supply for a household.
More specifically related to a Covid-19 response, our partners in Ethiopia are putting in place a communication plan aimed at some of the more densely populated areas with the recommended WHO guidelines on Covid-19 protection measures for handwashing and social distancing. Our experience in responding to the Ebola outbreak some years ago identified local radio as a very effective channel for this and helped counter some of the harmful superstitions around the disease.
Also, here in Ireland, some of our board members are part of our national Covid-19 response.
Our Chair David Weakliam (right), a consultant in public health, has been advising Irish health care workers such as GPs on how to continue to provide essential services while self-isolating. David is the Director for Global Health for the HSE so he is also helping to prepare hospitals in Africa to plan for the pandemic in light of the reality that they are at the bottom of the queue in terms of access to personal protective equipment and other essential supplies.
Paraic O’Toole (left) also a director of Tearfund Ireland is working with the Irish Defence Forces to develop a technology solution to track and trace individuals who may have had contact with confirmed cases ofCovid-19 from defence force personnel serving on the front line. A solution that is hoped can also be used to track and trace civilian cases.
Thank you for your continued support as we serve those who are poorest on the planet.
Photo: Church based partner, Merath (Middle east revive and thrive) distribute milk and nappies to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.
Image credit: Integral Partner, Tearfund New Zealand, 2018.