Stand By Me

Covid-19: The impact on the children of Stand by Me

How has Covid-19 impacted Stand by Me's projects and the children in our care? 

When we were made aware of the spread of Covid-19 we acted quickly to put the necessary precautions and measures in place in our projects around the world. We have taken the threat of Covid-19 very seriously and have put in place stringent precautions to ensure the safety and health of our children, their families and our staff. 

We monitor our projects closely and receive regular updates from our country directors and staff around the globe. You can find the latest WHO global reports of coronavirus cases here. Our staff on the ground are working incredibly hard, making our children’s health and protection their highest priority. Further information on how the coronavirus has impacted each of our projects and the measures we have put in place can be found below.

Colombia

The Dominican Republic 

Ethiopia 

Romania 

India 

Nepal 

Myanmar

How you can communicate with your sponsored child

Are the children in Stand by Me’s care at risk to Covid-19?

Our children and their families are particularly at risk due to the lack of access to resources they need to protect themselves such as water, soap and sanitiser. Our children and their families are living in poverty and therefore have no purchasing power to buy enough food. Neither can they afford to self-isolate as there are no safety nets to protect their fragile employment and income. The places where we work do not have a high level of healthcare and their governments are ill equipped to deal with an outbreak. In the majority of countries we work in, testing for Covid-19 has such limited capacity or is unaffordable which means that there is a lack of information regarding the true reality of cases in each country.

How can I help and support the children and their families?

This year we have faced one of our greatest challenges with the spread of Covid-19 which led to our schools having to close back in March 2020. To ensure that no child went hungry during the pandemic we stepped out in faith to provide vital monthly food parcels to our families. Thanks to our supporters' incredible generosity we have been able to provide life-saving food parcels to 1,500 families throughout the last 8 months, until the end of November 2020, and we are so thankful. 

Now that our schools are reopening, to keep our children safe from Covid-19 we are educating them on a rota system which will mean they are not able to attend school every day. When our children don’t come to school many of them will not have food to eat. To ensure they do not go hungry we are therefore continuing to provide food parcels for the children and their families who need it.

Each food parcel costs £40 and will provide a family with a month's supply of essential food and soap to keep a family nourished and healthy. We would be so grateful for any contribution you can make towards a food parcel, bringing security and hope to a family when they need it the most. 

Help us provide urgent food parcels

We want to ensure that no child in our care goes hungry while isolating and we would really appreciate your help to provide essential food parcels to keep our children and their families nourished and healthy.

Can I still communicate with my sponsored child?

Yes, we would love you to continue to support and encourage your sponsored child. The best way to communicate with your sponsored child at this time is by email. We are encouraging you to email rather than send postal letters because post will not be processed as frequently due to staff working remotely. If you must send post, it should fit in an A5 envelope so that it can be posted through our letterbox. Please bear in mind it may take longer than usual to receive a reply to your email while our projects safeguard our children and staff. Email your sponsored child to [email protected]

If you would like to send a gift to your child, the quickest way to do this is to give a monetary gift to your sponsored child online at www.standby.me/donate-treat. If you do not remember your child's ID number, please email us at [email protected] or call us on 01708442271.

If you have concerns for your sponsored child please email [email protected] and we will do our best to reply to your query.

Communicate with your sponsored child
We would love you to continue to support and encourage your sponsored child. The best way to communicate with your sponsored child at this time is by email. If you would like to send a gift to your child, the quickest way to do this is to give a monetary gift to your sponsored child online. A monetary gift of between £10-£25 will be used to buy a gift which your child wants or needs and which will help them feel loved and special.

Country information

Colombia

Mandatory preventive isolation (lockdown) began in Colombia on March 25th and continued until August 30th. Over the past year our concern has been for the families of our children who earn their income from day-to-day work such as motorcycle taxi drivers, street vendors and small shops. This also includes many of our children’s mothers who are heads of households who work washing clothes for others or doing other household tasks. The main job occupations are working on farms or plantations, particularly bananas plantations, and this also has decreased with many people out of work. Food and other basic products have increased in price due to the difficulty of transporting it from the cities.

To help the children in our care, keep them protected and healthy and to support their families, many of whom have lost their income, we have been providing food parcels. The children and their families have received a food parcel every fortnight. The parcels have contained a variety of food and basic necessities which have been a great blessing for them in these difficult times when there is a great burden on families.  

The children in our care in Colombia come from difficult backgrounds. To be able to continue our work with the most at risk children we assessed and planned the process of reopening the Care Centre. We were given permission to reopen the Care Centre for a reduced number of children. 

Our staff in Colombia are in regular contact with each child who we support. Those 12 years and over have returned to the Care Centre where they also receive lunch as well as important educational support. The children who are younger than 12 years old remain at home and our staff facilitate educational help for them while also continue to provide food for those who need it.  

Update 13.04.2021 - Covid cases in Colombia are high and have been increasing in recent weeks. Although the process of vaccinating the public has begun, this has caused the general population to take less precautions resulting in increasing cases of Covid and increasing deaths due to Covid. In the town where we work, Covid cases have increased. Some of the parents of the children in our care as well as a few of our children have been experiencing Covid symptoms and have therefore been isolating at home while recovering. Unfortunately there is no access to Covid tests in or near the town and therefore the only option for our children and their families who are experiencing symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with Covid symptoms is to isolate. Due to the increase of Covid cases and to protect our children, we have made the decision to close the Care Centre until the situation improves. While families isolate to keep safe, we are providing food parcels so that families do not go hungry and can stay healthy. Please pray for protection and health for all of our children, their families and our staff, and that all those experiencing flu symptoms will make a full recovery. 

The Dominican Republic 

The Dominican Republic had a nationwide lockdown that consisted of restrictions on social gathering and public places being open. Schools were closed and families were advised to take precautions and socially distance. 

The Stand by Me children at the Casa Monte Plata Children's Village have been staying at home during lockdown, looked after by their home parents and following strict hygiene measures. The children at the Eva Russell School have been unable to attend school because of school closures and to ensure they stay safe to minimise the spread of Covid-19. Due to many of the families' low income this has been a difficult time. Many of the families of our children have low earning jobs that have not been possible to continue during the pandemic and many already struggled with unemployment. Our staff have been supporting families to ensure they have everything they need to stay safe, healthy and protected at home. 

Ethiopia

On the 16th March all schools, colleges and universities were closed. Following this, a state of emergency was declared by the Ethiopian Government for five months up to the end of August 2020 and the public ordered to stay home except for exceptional circumstances so as to contain the spread of the virus.

Due to lockdown starting early in Ethiopia, it became difficult to enforce all people to stay at home because of the fact that the majority of Ethiopian population lives a hand-to -mouth existence and the Government cannot subsidise them. Consequently, the Government changed its strategy for containing the spread of the virus in which lockdowns eased by introducing revised guidelines. The current lockdown rules include frequent and proper washing of hands with soap or hand sanitiser while entering banks, supermarkets, shops etc, wearing face-masks in public, keeping physical distancing of two metres, not to conduct meetings of more than 4 people, public transportation and government and private vehicles to reduce their capacity of accommodating people by 50% as well as other restrictions.

The main issues facing the children and families in the care of Stand by Me is limited access to employment on which most of the families survive. In addition, most of them are not in a position to purchase self-protection items like face-masks, sanitiser or soap. Stand by Me has supported the children and their families by distributing food parcels which have been a lifeline for families with no other source of income or supplies. Since the negative impact of the virus on the children and families has not yet improved, they still need further support. Moreover, protective items like facemasks, sanitiser, soap and cleaning products are also in demand by those who cannot afford to buy. We will continue to provide food parcels and other necessities to our children and their families for as long as they need to ensure their protection.

Our schools have been reopened on a rota system to allow hygiene and social distancing rules to be followed. While this rota system is ongoing we are continuing to ensure every family in our care has enough food and protective materials to keep themselves safe. 

Update 09.04.2021 - Unfortunately Covid cases are increasing in Ethiopia and our Bethany School staff have recently been tested for Covid. From the preliminary test results, there have been some positive cases of Covid amongst the staff at the Bethany School. We felt that these preliminary results were too high to keep the school open while we wait for the remaining results to come back. Therefore, all of our Bethany School children and teaching staff are isolating at home to ensure there is no further spread of the virus. Due to the lack of availability of Covid tests in Ethiopia, it is not possible to get tests for all of our students and so the best way to keep our staff and children safe at this time is for our staff and children to isolate at home and monitor for symptoms. We are pleased to report that so far, none of our children have experienced any Covid symptoms.

Thankfully our High School students had not been in any contact with the Bethany School staff due to their studies being located at a different site and are therefore able to continue to attend High School as normal.

As our Bethany School children isolate at home, they will no longer be able to receive their daily meals at school. To ensure they do not go hungry, we are providing a food parcels for every child isolating. These food parcels are essential to ensuring our children have the nutrition they need to stay healthy and provide security for our children’s families who struggle to afford food each day. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely to ensure our children are safe and healthy. We hope that after the isolation period finishes, our children can quickly get back to school to receive all the benefits of a great education.

Romania

Our staff and children in Romania have stayed safe. When Romania was in a strict lockdown our team delivered food parcels and supplies to the neediest families in the community who we support through the Denisa Day Care Centre. This food was a great help to the families who could no longer go out to work and helped them stay safe during lockdown.

Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, many people need to venture out. At the House of Hope some of the girls need to go to their university cities for different pending activities. We follow different preventive methods to stay healthy and keep the house as clean as possible.

Thankfully there have not been any Covid-19 cases reported in the village where Stand by Me works. During lockdown the staff kept in touch online with the community children who we support and who were required to do homelearning by the government schools. Unfortunately many of these children did not have access to the internet to complete their home learning and so we helped provide worksheets and learning materials. Now our care centre has reopened we are helping all the children catch up on their education.

Myanmar

On March 23rd a Covid-19 case was confirmed in Tedim, Chin State, and the country began to introduce restrictions, starting with the cancellation of university exams. Lockdowns were introduced and all markets, restaurant, religious buildings, schools and other public places were closed. All festivals and ceremonies were forbidden and only one person was permitted to go out to do shopping from each household. The lockdown in Myanmar was extended until August 15th however some restrictions are being eased. 

Our children are safe in our projects. We have provided prevention materials for our homes including masks and sanitiser. We have also provided additional nutritious food to keep our children healthy during this time. 

Update 13.04.2021 - Over the past months, a military coup in Myanmar has caused disruption and civil unrest. We want to reassure you that our children and staff are safe and we are doing all we can to meet their needs. All schools and universities in the country are closed and so our children remain at home. As the unrest is mainly occurring in the cities and large towns, to keep our children safe and away from the violence and danger, those in our homes who have relatives in villages away from the cities have returned to live with them. Those who do not have any other relatives remain in our children's homes but are unable to leave the homes due to the danger on the street.  

Another troubling situation is that young adults under 30 are the at risk of being taken by the military. Therefore many of our younger members of staff have had to leave the cities and towns where these arrests are occurring and are staying in villages further from the city. Please pray for their protection.  

With banks and shops closed, food in short supply, civil unrest, daily protest and violence, we ask for your continued prayers. While we sent urgent money to support our projects, the staff on the ground were unable to access these funds due to the closure of banks. Without access to funds we were concerned about feeding our children. We are pleased to share that we were able to find a temporary alternative route to transfer funds. These funds along will provide for our children's food and urgent needs. However, we would like to ask you for prayers that God will make a way and He will meet the following needs: for banks to reopen, that our children and staff will remain safe and their urgent needs met and that the civil unrest will stop.  

India

India has experienced a high number of Covid-19 cases as a country. With a large population, and in particular a large population in the cities, there have been many clusters of cases. Our project is located in a more remote area of India. Our children's home in India is in a small town on the India-Myanmar border called Moreh. 

In March the border was closed and lockdown restrictions began. The children have been in lockdown since March and they have been staying safe at the children's home. Although they have been unable to go to school they are safe, healthy and are being cared for by the home parents. The India-Myanmar border is still closed and because of this many people are facing financial problems as they were completely reliant on trading and selling over the border for their income.

Nepal

The Nepal government closed all schools in mid March with almost no time between the declaration and implementation. All exams were cancelled. All children had to return to their home villages and be isolated with family. No-one is allowed to mix and travel to food and medicine shops are the only outings allowed. Almost all our Hetauda children were therefore sent home but Prasant, our country director, is in contact with each family wherever possible and they know to contact him if they run into difficulties over food, money or health. Almost nobody has been allowed to work except those in key roles but Prasant was worried that those families whose earners were labourers might run short. There is no social security but the government has supplied food aid to people. However, the system only provides such aid to people registered in a particular district. 

Prasant kept 8 children on site who have no family to go to. He and his wife are cared for these, together with a few staff who chose to remain. As the new school year began, they are started online lessons, but the majority of those sent home were not able to access this because they had no internet or devices in their home villages and no money to pay for such things. 

Our Khairang Bethany School was also closed and our Director, Prasant, stayed in communication with staff in Khairang to ensure the families had enough food.

Almost all the children have now returned to the Stand by Me family in Hetauda and are settling back into life in the homes and school. A couple of families have been very frightened about the coronavirus infection and have chosen to keep their children with them. Our Director reports that most children are very appreciative of the chance to be back in school and delighted to pick up their friendships again after 9 long months of isolation. There have been a few children who had really enjoyed the freedom of life in their villages and these have found settling down to life at school more of a problem than others. When the children first began to go back to school, Stand by Me supplied all of them with hand sanitiser and masks. School was arranged in shifts, but now all the classes are back as normal and children attend with their masks on. 

Stand by Me are providing the children with extra coaching after school, particularly for those who are finding it hard to catch up with their classmates who had access to  online classes. Nationally, the final GCSE equivalent exams have been slightly delayed to give more time for children to catch up. Ten of our students will be sitting these exams.

All the children on the roll have returned to our Bethany School and are enjoying their classes again. Our children are doing well in their education which is a remarkable achievement as most of them received little or no lessons for over 7 months of the year because of lockdown restrictions. Our staff had visited each child’s home regularly to give them lesson work to do at home. The community has not been overly affected by lockdown restrictions because they have so little access to markets and shops anyway, spending most of their time in the fields and herding their goats in the jungle.

Stand by... almost there...