COVID-19 has brought tragedy and hardship to families around the world. Coping with the virus has been especially difficult in developing communities, where a lack of basic resources is the norm. Children, in particular, are greatly impacted by the sudden loss of adequate food, deepening family poverty, scarce resources and an increased risk of witnessing or suffering violence and abuse. This is why Children Believe – a Canadian charity that has helped more than one million children around the world overcome barriers to education and other life essentials – has been ramping up its support to the hundreds of thousands of people it serves across Africa, Asia and the Americas with the aim of providing life-saving relief.
In Times of Crisis, Children Often Face the Greatest Challenges
School closures in most countries where Children Believe works are an important preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. So, too, are efforts to encourage frequent hand-washing, social distancing and other precautionary measures. Children Believe has been sharing prevention information through radio, pamphlets and other channels, and handing out hygiene kits, soap, sanitizer, gloves and masks.
But vital support is also needed to help children stay on course to complete their education.
“Together with our local partners, Children Believe is providing alternative learning methods to ensure education continues, especially for girls,” says Aki Temiseva, Chief Development and Marketing Officer, Children Believe. “The longer an adolescent girl is away from school, the greater the barriers to her future education as she may be forced into early marriage or become more vulnerable to sexual exploitation or forced labour.”
Whether through radio or TV broadcasts, WhatsApp groups, online portals, printed pamphlets and other methods, Children Believe is helping children access innovative ways to learn.
The organization is producing and sharing relevant content to enhance academic skills, as well as providing protection-focused messages about mental health and psychosocial support, and promoting child protection for children in supported communities, as well.
“In a time of crisis, a child needs to feel a sense of normalcy and control over their own life,” notes Temiseva. “We are so grateful for the generous Canadians who make our work possible but there is so much more to be done. Together, we can make positive change happen.”
For the most vulnerable families in Children Believe-supported communities, the organization is also distributing Emergency Food Packs with critically needed rations – such as rice, pasta, oil and wheat, and providing essential services such as delivering protective equipment and other medical supplies.
COVID-19 Impact on Vulnerable Global Communities
To date, there are no official reports of children or families in the communities where Children Believe works, diagnosed with COVID-19. However, there are many reported cases in these countries and testing is limited. This has led to lockdowns, closures of non-essential businesses and schools, and implementation of local safety measures. It has also caused significant financial hardship for communities, not to mention the additional fear and anxiety that is a direct result of the crisis.
Having lost the ability to earn an income, many families are struggling to provide food for their children, and, due to school closures, children no longer have access to nutritious school meals.
Helping the Global Community: Support Now Will Have a Lasting Impact
Today, Children Believe is asking Canadians who can, to help the world’s most vulnerable children access life-saving resources and education, so they can survive the COVID-19 crisis and continue to dream fearlessly about today, tomorrow and the future.
To learn more or support these initiatives, visit childrenbelieve.ca/COVID.
About Children Believe
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. If you’d like to learn more or offer support during this global pandemic, visit our website at childrenbelieve.ca/COVID or call 1.800.263.5437.