Impact of COVID-19 on our partners in the South
Picture: a nurse at the HVP Gatagara in Rwanda now uses a mouth mask to care of patients.
The world has been under the spell of COVID-19 for quite some time. Our partners in the South are taking as many measures as possible to prevent and avoid the further spread of the coronavirus. They prepare themselves for the moment that people who work in our services, people who are hospitalized, or come by for care, become infected.
People stay at home as much as possible. ‘Social distancing' has become a worldwide concept. Everyone keeps as much distance from each other as possible. In the fight against the coronavirus, it is very important that we frequently wash our hands thoroughly with soap. This receives a lot of attention from our partners. In Nicaragua, for example, they also take hand hygiene seriously. Claudia, whom you recognize from Fracarita Belgium’s South Action Campaign film 'Fuerza, Mamá!', sensitizes the remaining youngsters in the centre of the Brothers of Charity in Granada:
(Read more below the video)
Consequences for the local people
The virus and lockdown measures also affect our facilities indirectly and cause misery:
food no longer gets into the city from inland and scarcity causes exorbitant prices, also for the basic things;
no income means that people no longer come to therapy, or are no longer able to pay for their care/medication;
people are no longer allowed or able (due to a lack of public transport) to travel for their follow-up consultations or to visit their families who have been admitted;
the psychiatric centre Kamenge in Burundi, for example, notices that people no longer come to collect their much-needed medication;
grandparents miss their grandchildren;
young people miss their school friends.
Schools are closed
Although children appear to be less susceptible to the coronavirus, they are confronted with the consequences. In several countries the decision has been taken to temporarily suspend lessons at school in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. For example, the Saint Peter’s School school in Simalia, India, has been closed by the lockdown. But also the schools of the Brothers of Charity in Tanzania, Peru,... are all closed. Unfortunately, distance learning via the internet in schools in the South is not feasible. Pupils are therefore seriously behind in their learning. A consequence for the closed schools is that they still bear the wage burden, but receive no income from the school fees.
We all hope that COVID-19 will spare our partners in the South as much as possible. They are doing their utmost to prevent the spread. It will be difficult to build up what was abruptly broken down and new forms of poverty will emerge. We face many challenges, but we will face them together as much as possible.
Picture: children who have nowhere else to go, are still welcome in the centres of the Brothers of Charity in Nicaragua, despite the corona crisis. There too, the social distance rules are respected...