COVID 19 – Responding To The Global Pandemic

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A brief look at a recent report highlighting our range of responses to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

(download the full report here)

A Year of Global Pandemic Challenges

2020 was an extremely challenging year for Friends-International, (FI) as it was for many organizations in the non-profit sector.  The COVID-19 global pandemic had, and continues to have, a severe impact not only upon public health but also upon international and local economies. In FI, hard decisions on program and human resource cutbacks have had to be made. We also had to ensure that our support for those most at risk in communities continued, going beyond giving protection and prevention advice. It was imperative that against this backdrop of uncertainty we could continue to save lives and build futures.

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ChildSafe Agents, Bangkok

Preventing, Protecting, Supporting

Our previous blog and report on the FI global pandemic response outlined the initial steps we took in creating new protocols to address the emerging crisis. It also touched on the restructuring, refocusing and redeployment of team members and programs, and these processes carried on in the following months alongside our work in the field and behind the scenes.

Sharing Prevention Information in Communities

By the end of September 2020, over 21,000 of our beneficiaries had received prevention and protection training, much of it delivered by ChildSafe Agents, the #everydayheroes of the ChildSafe Movement.

In the six months from March-September 2020, 1,330 ChildSafe Agents were trained or upskilled in the effective delivery of prevention and protection information and messages.

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COVID Information Sessions

They continued to also function as key child protection personnel within communities. ChildSafe responded to 1,831 hotline calls during this period.

Alongside the prevention messaging and protection came much needed emergency support. Many families in our program areas were hit hard financially through job losses or reduced working hours, and desperately needed help in areas like rent and food security. Over 3,000 families, comprising over 12,000 individuals, were supported by our programs in their emergency needs during this period.

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Emergency Support, Lao PDR

Ensuring Education and Employment

One of the biggest concerns globally on the extended impact of the pandemic has been the effect upon the education of children and youth. Schools have closed for extended periods of time, with learning going online in some instances. However, this hits hard in many communities we work with. Often families do not have access to stable internet for online learning, and children may find the process difficult to engage with. FI programs supported 2,390 children with their remote education needs over the six month period reported, including homework distribution and support, and access to supported group online learning.

Distributing School Supplies

Additionally, with job security currently a huge concern for many, it has been heartening that we have supported 343 youth and caregivers with skills training and job placement. Some of that training has also taken place online under the restrictions in place at any given time.

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Job Placement Follow Up

Reaching Out

Providing direct services when and where needed has always been an integral part of our ‘Saving Lives’ element. During this time we provided 453,100 targeted essential support services to over 2,000 individuals considered high-risk, including street living children and families, drug users and sex workers.

Street Outreach, Cambodia

Through the ChildSafe Movement Family Campaign, which was launched back in March of 2020 as the pandemic took hold globally, we reached 444,877 persons with support information linked to 7 Tips for Families During Lockdown

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An image from the ChildSafe Family Campaign, created by a young person

The #everydayheroes of Friends-International both behind the scenes and in the field have been instrumental in delivering these results under extremely challenging and rapidly changing situations, and we applaud their resilience and dedication.

We are also deeply grateful to our supporters for enabling us to continue our work. Through that support we have also been able to innovate, and develop new approaches and strategies that will enable us to carry on, saving lives and building futures, throughout the global pandemic and beyond.

(If you wish to support the work of Friends-International programs, please consider making a donation here)

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