Humanitarian aid in the age of COVID-19: How FXB teams continue to work around the world
FXB managers from all around the world talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their activities, the lives of our beneficiaries, and what can be done to continue working for the most destitute populations under these extraordinary circumstances.
In South Africa, children in dire need of support
“With the return of all classes to schools during August, we had to come up with new ideas on how we could assist our beneficiaries”, explains Stevie Megens, head of FXB South Africa. “We managed to get permission to spend an hour and a half with our children straight after the end of school each day. Help boxes were placed in all the schools to assist pupils, parents and teachers in placing requests for help in all spheres, such as the need for food, school uniforms, stationery or psycho-social support”.
In Namibia, solidarity in the age of COVID
“The income generating activities of our FXBVillage beneficiaries have suffered greatly from the crisis, but thankfully FXB Switzerland found funds to revive them”, says Patricia Solal from FXB Namibia. “We’ve also implemented specific COVID-linked activities to help vulnerable populations, including strengthening our health and nutritional support in terms of prevention, training and aid”.
In Burundi, life goes on as aid workers adapt to smaller restrictions
“We’re implementing our FXBVillages normally, with no specific challenge”, comments Olivier Hirva from FXB Burundi. “Of course, our teams on the ground strongly encourage our beneficiaries to reinforce their hygiene habits, regularly wash their hands, keep a social distance with one another and use masks in public spaces. With the start of the new school year, we’re now also focused on the distribution of uniforms and school programs to all the families who take part in our programs”.
In Rwanda, economic empowerment under threat
Damascène Nsayisaba, FXB Program Director for Africa, talks about the situation in Rwanda: “Like many other organizations of the field, FXB Rwanda has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the situation deeply varies from one region to the next, we weren’t able to implement some of our poverty-alleviation programs, while the livelihood of many of our beneficiaries, especially those who earned their living from a small-scale trade, has been deeply jeopardized by the restrictions and economic crisis”.
In India, reaching out to the marginalized populations
“All our offices, including the Delhi office, are partially reopened, with a lot of our staff working from home”, explains Mamta Borgoyary, CEO of FXB India Suraksha. “We’ve evidently had to adapt many of our activities, including our education programs, now only organized in small groups or remotely. Most of our efforts are focused on providing nutrition to children living in slums and conducting health prevention and awareness campaigns to poorer populations in areas where we operate”.
In Myanmar, refocusing activities on essential aid and support
“Sadly, some of our project activities have been suspended due to stay at home orders and travel restrictions”, comments FXB Myanmar Country Director Cho Cho Mar Kyaw , including our Vocational Training program, the FXB Showroom and our Healthcare Floating Clinic. “But we were also able to continue a number of our activities, including our flagship FXBVillage programs in the Mon and Kayin States, and implemented special activities linked to the pandemic: public awareness campaigns, safe houses for women victims of gender-based violence, and psycho-social support training to help people deal with the stress and anxiety of COVID-19”.
In Mongolia, keeping traditional trade afloat
“The pandemic has deeply impacted Mongolia, which should stay in quarantine until at least the end of October”, says head of FXB Mongolia Erdenetuya Jambal. “For FXB, we couldn’t organize any training sessions at our office, and had to scrap all home visits in the field as well. Nevertheless, we kept contact with many families online or through mobile, and our beneficiaries were even able to take part in the trade fair exhibition ‘Produced in Dornogobi’, which helped them generate some revenue in these trying times”.
In France, making do with a worsening situation
“The situation in France is very alarming”, warns Laure Delouvrier, Director of FXB France. “However, we were able to carry out two distributions of maternal and hygienic kits to street and migrant women in the Paris area, who currently finds themselves in a very dire situation”.
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