Wherever you are, we hope you are staying safe. Our whole team at HQ is working remotely and our local teams are taking similar steps to protect themselves and their families, following the guidelines from the Mozambican government.
We wanted to share with you our first hand update on Covid-19 in our operations in Mozambique. The government reacted swiftly to the global pandemic by ordering all schools and universities to close last Monday, which was announced even before they had any reported cases. Unfortunately, the first cases have started to be recorded (7 confirmed classes as of one hour ago here), as well as in many other countries in Africa. Neighbouring South Africa is escalating fast. The outlook is uncertain. If we worry about the strength of western health systems, needless to say the situation is much more worrying in Mozambique.
Here are the first steps we have taken in the communities where we operate:
Prevention: we have sent Covid-19 Awareness Posters in advance to help spread the word on how to best prevent this illness, especially in what concerns hand washing. You can see them here and although our schools and centres were subsequently closed, some of these posters are still available for passer by community members.
Sponsored Children: The c.877 children under our annual sponsorship programme are not attending school but we are not suspending the monthly food basket distributions. However, we will split the families in groups when picking up their upcoming April baskets to avoid large group gatherings. We have also added extra liquid soap to the usual basket drawing on emergency funds. Finally, we have sent advances for our local partners to buy selected items such as rice and soap in advance so that we don’t run out of these goods when it gets to our May basket distributions. Here is a picture of today’s distribution in the Chongoene rural neighbourhoods. More will follow in the coming days.
Pre-School: Our 3 pre-schools have all been closed as of last Monday. For many of these 250 children, the daily meal they get at the ALG pre-school is the main part of their nutrition. As such, we have organised supplementary monthly food distributions for the foreseeable future, similar to the food baskets offered to sponsored kids, in order to support the families in this difficult time.
HIV Day Centre: The Centre in the SLM school hosting 37 children daily has also been closed alongside the SLM School. Nutrition is key for these infected children taking ARV treatment. As such, we have also organised the distribution of monthly food baskets (richer in protein and quantities than any other of our programmes). This will allow the children and families to maintain a good food intake during this crisis, as they will not be able to attend the Centre.
On all above distributions, we have requested our Local Partners, our in-house psychologist Ácio and our local Coordinators Hilário and Elisa to lead Informative Sessions advising on the risks and precautions of the disease. These will be completed in the next few days, in some places in collaboration with the local health authorities, who will also take this opportunity to educate the population on best practices. We will share more photos as they come to us.
After-School Support Programs: The programs are suspended from this week as they are part of the school daily life. We have not replaced the snack provided given all the children are sponsored children who also receive the fortified food baskets.
School Feeding: The program is suspended from this week. This is one of the most concerning areas for us but we have not been able to secure a good and safe alternative. Feeding 900 children a meal a day in the school would go against all recommendations to avoid large public gatherings. We are monitoring the situation closely and are ready to intervene shall the situation change or requests for emergency support come from the ground.
Staff: We have maintained monthly salaries for the staff across all UPG projects. Remote working is barely an option but we have chosen to support the community in the best way that we can. We have advised all our local technicians to stay home as much as they can (except for the emergency distributions) and we have suspended family visits by our team for the time being. We will keep in touch with more news as the situation develops.
We will keep in touch with more news as the situation develops.
If you or your friends and colleagues want to be part of the ALG emergency response, please do feel free to share the link below.
KEEP SMILLING…NEVER LOSE HOPE!
EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT