As you can imagine, the children and families we serve are exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19 and its impacts. We are working hard, alongside local partners, authorities, and families and children themselves, to continue to make sure they have the food, water, health care, education and protection they need. As always, our response and activities vary from community to community, based on children’s needs. Learn how we’re responding in each of the countries where we work in the Americas, Africa and Asia below – and we’ll continue to update this page as our response progresses.
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As we observe a year of changes in our lives and lifestyles the world over, our challenges in facilitating child-sponsor correspondence continue as well. Keeping kids safe is our top priority, making delivery and collection of messages a slow and careful process. Remember, E-letters are still the safest, fastest and most reliable way to make sure your messages and photos get delivered to your sponsored child. Log in or register for your account and sign up for e-writing in the “My Correspondence” section of your donor portal to start writing today!
Read an overview of each country’s response below, and check out the most recent emergency response report from the Americas, which includes photos and stories from children and families, as well.
In Bolivia, the surge of daily cases seen at the new year seems to be on the decline. Schools partially reopened in February 2021 through either virtual or hybrid learning. Departments and municipalities will have the authority to determine education schedules and whether or not students will return to the classroom in-person. As of mid-March, more than 9,000 citizens were reported to be fully vaccinated as part of a phased administration plan. Incoming and outgoing child mail via post is still delayed.
Most of our local partners in Bolivia are delivering program activities via the radio, social media, online meetings, text messages and printed packets that focus on educational activities for young children and parenting support for caregivers who have been home daily since the onset of the pandemic. Our local partners produced two community TV programs to share activities that feature local youth leaders and guide mothers. ChildFund has partnered with multiple organizations to support a nationwide children’s anti-violence campaign via social media, radio, videos and printed information.
Connect with ChildFund Bolivia on Facebook to see more updates.
Brazil continues to experience high daily case numbers of COVID-19 with varying degrees of incidence throughout the country. As of mid-March, at least one COVID-19 vaccine had been approved by the government, and a phased administration plan is now underway with more than 2.8 million citizens reported as fully vaccinated. In the regions where ChildFund Brazil operates, local governments continue reopening commerce as well as some schools. For most of our intervention areas, however, classes remain virtual. Many children still report difficulties attending online classes without computers or mobile phones or with poor internet connections. Incoming and outgoing child mail via post is operational with continued delays.
ChildFund's program activities are gradually resuming, with a focus on initiatives related to prevention and protection and favoring virtual delivery methods where possible. Our local partner staff continue connecting with families virtually, emphasizing care and compassion for caregivers who are also educators at home. We continue to deliver food and hygiene kits and promote virtual educational activities, reaching more than 7,700 families in this reporting period. We also distributed baby cribs and clothing in conjunction with a new parent education initiative.
For more information and stories on ChildFund Brazil's COVID-19 response, check out their 2020 Annual Report. You can also visit ChildFund Brazil's COVID-19 response website for weekly updates on the progress of their emergency response, and connect with ChildFund Brazil on Facebook.
In Ecuador, cases continue to be high following Carnival season. Some localities have imposed special measures. Schools remain virtual through much of the country, while some rural schools and colleges have been approved for return to in-person lessons. As of mid-March, at least one COVID-19 vaccine had been approved by the government, and a phased approach to administering vaccines is now underway. The local post office that serves ChildFund Ecuador has experienced severe disruption, and we're developing new routing to receive sponsor letters.
Regular ChildFund program activities are partially operational with protection and safety measures in place for children and staff. Our local partner staff remains in close touch with families, providing education and support to help manage the stress, anxiety and emotional challenges of the pandemic. We continue to provide educational kits and connectivity support for the most vulnerable families. To prepare for the re-opening of classrooms, nine schools in the North and Center Highland regions were supported to improve sanitation facilities for returning students. In the recent reporting period, nearly 900 food baskets were distributed to help families through ongoing joblessness and food insecurity.
Connect with ChildFund Ecuador on Facebook to see more updates.
In Guatemala, reopening progresses while daily cases have seen little change since late January. Schools remain closed, and Lent processionals for the Easter season have been suspended. As of mid-March, health authorities had received the first doses of vaccine during the first quarter of the year and started implementing a plan for administration. Still, it is not certain when vaccines will be widely available. Mail is starting to stabilize but continues to be delayed.
ChildFund's normal program activities have resumed, focusing first on opportunities to provide online, community broadcast or virtual education and support. We've also focused attention on families impacted by Tropical Storm Eta and Hurricane Iota, confirming that children and families are accounted for and safe. Distributions of hygiene kits and supplies continued through March.
Connect with ChildFund Guatemala on Facebook to see more updates.
In Honduras, COVID-19 challenges have been compounded by the destruction of Tropical Storm Eta and Hurricane Iota as they struck the country in the final months of the year. The national curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. was lifted only for the week of March 12-16 to allow for timely completion of internal and political party elections. Schools across the country remain closed. As of early March, the government had not yet approved a vaccine for use against COVID-19. Incoming and outgoing mail may have significant delays.
In the wake of devastating storms, focus for our local partners in the northern and western parts of the country focuses on food security. We've recently trained our local partners and specialists in psychological first aid to deepen our support to families. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Organization of Ibero-American States for Science and Culture (OEI), we've coordinated a public service campaign aimed at promoting safety and self-care.
Connect with ChildFund Honduras on Facebook to see more updates.
Mexico continues its second wave of infections with authorities reporting widespread community transmission. Between March 1-14, there are no states designated "red" under the federal stoplight system, indicating improvement from our February report. Under red, only essential activities are allowed. Authorities continue to promote safe hygiene practices and personal responsibility while restrictions on some businesses and large gatherings continue. Schools in only a few areas where we work have sufficiently low risk levels to facilitate in-person classes, beginning in January. Classes will continue virtually elsewhere. As of mid-March, vaccinations were underway in a phased approach, with reports of more than 600,000 citizens fully vaccinated. Incoming and outgoing mail is still delayed.
Although ChildFund's normal activities are restricted, our local partners are actively following up with families to ensure they understand how to protect themselves from COVID-19 and provide activities for skills-building, physical activity and education. We're communicating through posters, videos, WhatsApp and SMS groups, reaching more than 11,800 youth and community members in February. We distributed food baskets to 50 families during the month.
Connect with ChildFund Mexico on Facebook to see more updates.
In all three areas of the U.S. where ChildFund works – in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, in Jackson, Mississippi, and in Richmond, Virginia – COVID-19 cases continue. Texas and Mississippi governors have lifted mask mandates and rolled back many restrictions, though many local organizations, school districts and businesses continue to observe COVID-protective restrictions. In late February, both areas also faced major winter storm emergencies, resulting in losses of power, running water and cell service both for staff and the families we serve. School districts in Texas and Mississippi that serve the majority of our supported children are either virtual or offering hybrid learning. While approved vaccines have begun a phased approach for administration in all three of our program areas, administration remains at "phase 1B" priority groups. It's still unclear when they will be fully available for the general public. Mail service continues with limited interruption, though safely visiting with families to deliver or collect messages is a slow and careful process.
Local partner organizations in Mississippi, Texas and the Richmond area are collaborating with schools and other groups to ensure that their most vulnerable families have access to food through local food banks, community distributions and school-sponsored curbside meal deliveries. Our Texas team received a shipment of masks through ChildFund's gifts in kind program and has already assisted local students by distributing more than 10,000 masks so far! In early March, ChildFund Texas helped deliver eight pallets' worth of drinking water to families left without electricity, potable water and cell phone service in the wake of winter freezing. We continue to implement "no pressure zone" activities throughout our target communities, providing unit activity kits to facilitate learning. We use these activities to also celebrate birthdays, a meaningful experience for children who can't gather with friends and classmates. Regular outreach to our families continues to provide a vital connection and support to caregivers as we help identify and mitigate major stressors among youth and parents, providing referrals for additional local resources as needed.
Check out this short "thank you" video from ChildFund's Texas programs.
Read an overview of each country’s response below, and check out the most recent emergency response report from Africa, which includes photos and stories from children and families as well.
Ethiopia is currently registering one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Africa and daily reported cases continue to rise. Students across many regions of the country have resumed in-person education. In early March, the government received 2.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility and administration was expected to begin soon. Mail delivery is still delayed.
Although ChildFund's normal program activities are limited, we are keeping in touch with families, and we have been able to visit families in several areas. Support is increasing in our program areas bordering Tigray, where displaced families are facing food insecurity and struggling with the stress of the nearby conflict.
Connect with ChildFund Ethiopia on Facebook to see more updates.
In Guinea, daily new cases of COVID-19 have increased in recent months and are now further challenged by the confirmation of Ebola in Gouecke, in the southern part of the country. Access to public places has been restricted, and measures like compulsory mask-wearing have been reinforced. A curfew is in place country-wide from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. As of early February, at least one vaccine had been approved by the government for COVID-19. Incoming and outgoing mail is still experiencing delays.
ChildFund’s normal programs have resumed, with careful attention to group size and providing for child and staff safety. In this reporting period, we equipped 26 community educational centers with handwashing kits to prevent COVID-19 while learning. We continue prevention messages on COVID-19 in the communities we serve, now including Ebola prevention messages in our education efforts.
Connect with ChildFund Guinea on Facebook to see more updates.
In Kenya, every county in the country has now reported COVID-19 cases. The government maintains amended safety precautions, including public mask-wearing and limitations on business hours for services. All grade levels resumed in-person learning in January under heightened health and safety measures. As of mid-March, the government had approved at least one vaccine for use against COVID-19 and received an initial shipment of over a million doses. The administration will use a prioritization system according to a national plan. Incoming and outgoing mail continues to experience delays.
ChildFund’s normal programs are resuming but have been scaled down to avoid large gatherings and to maintain safe practices for children and staff. Our local partner staff and trained community health volunteers continue to focus on stopping the spread and ensuring children are fed, safe and can continue learning. We continue to distribute soaps, sanitizer and masks along with our education campaigns to help keep thousands of community workers and students returning to schools safe. ChildFund Kenya celebrated Safer Internet Day February 9 by receiving a grant from Google to help advance an ecosystem approach to keep young audiences safe online. As more youth turn online for learning and livelihood, we know that promoting online safety becomes increasingly important.
In Mozambique, rates of COVID-19 infections (and concerns about a fast-spreading variant) have led the government’s mitigation procedures to continue through at least the end of March. Face-to-face classes at all educational institutions were permitted, however, to resume beginning March 7. Places of worship are closed, a curfew remains in effect, and most private social events are prohibited. As of mid-March, the government had not yet approved a vaccine for use against COVID-19, though the Ministry of Health has announced their intention to have vaccines beginning in the country within the first half of the year, and administration planning is underway. Mail may experience delays.
ChildFund's normal programming has resumed, following strict attention to gathering sizes and safety accommodations for children and staff. We continue to collaborate with the government and local partners to share key prevention messages on COVID-19.
Connect with ChildFund Mozambique on Facebook to see more updates.
In Senegal, an increase in cases early in the year have led authorities to once again take measures to combat the pandemic. While economic re-opening continues, large gatherings remain prohibited, and strict mask and social distancing rules are in place. The areas around Dakar and Thies continue a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. As of mid-February, Senegal received its first doses of vaccine and will begin prioritized administration. It will be some time before ample doses are available to achieve mass vaccination status. Schools have returned to the classroom, though a modified schedule has been announced for the Dakar area. Mail continues to experience delays.
Normal program activities have resumed with strict attention paid to child and staff safety and limits on the number of participants in group activities. ChildFund continues to focus on our COVID-19 response, supporting schools who have welcomed back their students and continuing messaging about protection. More than 80 schools have been supported in our last reporting period. Hygiene awareness training was completed in February to reach more than 28,000 students and faculty.
Connect with ChildFund Senegal on Facebook to see more updates.
In Sierra Leone, as of March 15, the government has confirmed 3,937 cases of COVID-19 and 79 deaths within its borders. Since late January, inter-district travel restrictions have been imposed, and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. reinstated. Health authorities in Sierra Leone received the first batch of 96,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in early March. The new school term of classroom learning is underway. Personal protection measures such as wearing masks in public places remains in effect. Mail continues to experience delays.
ChildFund's normal programming is underway with measures in place for child and staff safety. Sensitization and education on preventative hygiene continues in the communities we serve. ChildFund Sierra Leone donated a 40-foot container of assorted medical and pharmaceutical equipment to the country's Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fight COVID-19 and other illnesses and support children's and mothers' health. This gift in kind from MAP International is the fourth donation the country office has made since March 2020, and there's more to come.
Connect with ChildFund Sierra Leone on Facebook to see more updates.
The Gambia appears to be in its second wave, with continued high daily positive cases and UK variant confirmed in the country. Over 93 percent of the reported cases are still in the West Coast Region of the country, the area where ChildFund works. The Gambian government has recently announced renewed restrictions on music festivals and other large gatherings. Public health regulations, including the mandatory wearing of face masks, remain in effect. Schools have re-opened for all students. Postal services, however, remain limited, making incoming and outgoing mail a challenge. As of early March, the government had approved a vaccine for use against COVID-19.
ChildFund’s normal programs have started to resume with careful attention to the continued safety of children and staff. ChildFund has partnered with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and other actors to provide support to schools as they welcome students back to the classroom. With our partners, we continue to promote strong safety and hygiene practices for COVID-19. ChildFund The Gambia also recently distributed over 1,000 bikes to local partners to give to children, primarily to ride to school. The bikes were donated under ChildFund’s Dream Bikes project, which aims to ensure that kids can physically get to school today so they have the chance to go where they want in life tomorrow.
Connect with ChildFund The Gambia on Facebook to see more updates.
Uganda continues to experience COVID-19 outbreaks. Students in levels Primary 6, Senior 3 and Senior 5 have reported back to school, while other levels continue to wait while candidate classes complete their examinations. Plans for remaining class levels are expected in the coming months. Uganda is part of the global COVAX initiative and is looking into additional procurement through its national budget. Mail may still experience delays.
Our focus has been on supporting families with immediate needs or home health crises to ensure they have the support they need. We have also continued with awareness-raising in the communities to promote hygiene and safety. In several communities, we continued to award micro-grants to both children and caregivers, reaching hundreds in the last reporting period. Additional families received cash stipends to help purchase necessities. Learning materials were distributed to over 550 students in the past month.
Connect with ChildFund Uganda on Facebook to see more updates.
Zambia continues in its second wave and now has reported COVID-19 cases in all of its 116 districts. As of early late February, the Zambian Ministry of Health indicated an expectation that the first shipment of vaccines will arrive during the first half of 2021 and will be used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers. No timeline had been shared by the Ministry of Health as to when vaccines will become available for public use. Several community protection measures remain in place, including restrictions on large gatherings. Schools remain open for all ages and grade levels. Mail may still experience delays. Outbound post (letters responding to sponsors) appears to be stabilizing.
ChildFund Zambia and its local partner organizations continue to work with the Ministry of Health on awareness and sensitization campaigns to help slow the spread. We support all our community volunteers with face masks, soap and hand sanitizers so they can continue serving communities safely. We also continue to work with district councils to disinfect public places, such as markets, for the benefit of community members. In Luangwa District, where cases of COVID-19 have only recently emerged, ChildFund and its local partner organization have supported the Katondwe and Luangwa hospitals with personal protective equipment, disinfectants, medical equipment and face masks. February food distributions provided a lifeline to 280 families. ChildFund has continued to provide schools with soap, hand sanitizers and face masks, especially in rural areas where schools have limited resources for students.
Connect with ChildFund Zambia on Facebook to see more updates.
In Cambodia, in recent weeks, cases of community transmission seem to be stabilizing, with the exception of identified hotspots in Phnom Penh city. Schools are reopened. Social distancing rules continue to be in effect, with special incentives for those who have tested positive to quarantine at government-assigned facilities. As of late February, at least one vaccine was approved for use, and administration was underway. Mail may continue to experience delays with limitations in international flights for mail delivery.
As of the last report, there is no significant impact on children and families in our areas of operation. Currently, ChildFund Cambodia is implementing its activities as normal, following health and safety precautions of social distancing and keeping group activities small. We continue partnering with provincial governments to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. Many social organizations are predicting that by mid-year, families living in border locations may choose to migrate to neighboring countries to secure their livelihood. Since many schools in border communities remain closed for use as quarantine facilities, the risk of children accompanying parents on extended migration is greater.
In India, normal services are available throughout the country, including grocery stores, schools/universities and religious services. Most schools have moved to an online or hybrid system. Public gatherings are restricted in size, and face masks are worn almost universally in public. Local areas may have additional restrictions, especially localities who have recently seen an increase in cases. As of early March, more than one approved vaccine against COVID-19 and was in a phased approach of administration, fully vaccinating more than 5.5 million citizens so far. Mail may still be delayed.
ChildFund’s programming in India has resumed normal activities, with small groups participating and observing strict safety protocols. In most of our program communities, schools are re-opening for hybrid learning in a phased approach, with 10th and 12th grades now offering in-person learning and more to come at the end of February. In coordination with UNICEF, India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and local government officials, ChildFund India has hit the road in vans over the past few months to bring awareness of COVID-19 prevention and vaccination to more than 250,000 people in vulnerable communities. The vans, equipped with audiovisual equipment, have visited 60 villages to share multimedia and printed materials on handwashing and vaccination, as well as distribute soap and hold public meetings to spread knowledge.
COVID-19 is currently widespread in Indonesia, though rates of new cases have declined since the beginning of the year. Local-level monitoring and a sliding scale of restrictions in some of the most impacted islands have also been initiated. Some schools in low-risk areas or smaller islands have reopened, but the majority of schools remain closed, and the state-owned TV network continues online learning Monday-Friday. As of early March, multiple vaccines for COVID-19 have been secured by government, and a phased approach to administration is underway. Incoming and outgoing mail continues to experience delays.
While normal programming has slowed, we are supporting our local partners in implementing core programs with child and staff safety in mind. ChildFund is also responding to two additional emergency situations: an earthquake in West Sulawesi and flooding in Jakarta. In both cases, our emergency response also aims to strengthen community capacity to protect children from COVID-19, including providing hygiene kits and school supplies to more than 1,500 children. In some flooding areas, ChildFund also established a community public kitchen with food materials to support families working to regain normalcy. Information exchange on the prevention of violence against children is ongoing, and support is provided to families to help their students engage successfully in home learning.
Connect with ChildFund Indonesia on Facebook to see more updates.
In the Philippines, average daily cases have increased since the beginning of March, resulting in highly targeted, localized lockdowns in response to surges. While the metro Manila area is among those in temporary lockdown in mid-March, most of our operational areas are in Modified General Community Quarantine status and are seeing re-opening continue. Schools remain in a virtual learning environment with a mix of modular and online lessons. The school year has been extended to end in early July as part of the mitigation strategies developed by the Department of Education. As of mid-March, more than one COVID-19 vaccine had been approved by the government, and the first vaccine shipments have arrived in the country. Incoming and outgoing mail will continue to experience delays.
We continue the implementation of our normal programming with close attention to safety and local restrictions. Our programs include "psychological first aid" to families and students engaged in home-based blended learning to support use of home-schooling materials or help students struggling with modular learning.
Connect with ChildFund Philippines on Facebook to see more updates.
In Sri Lanka, daily new cases remain high, with the confirmation of the UK variant in the country. Curfews remain in effect for multiple areas. Schools outside of Sri Lanka's western province will be re-opening in mid-March. At the same time, grades 5, 11 and 13 will recommence in the western province with plans to recommence other grades in mid-April. As of early March, at least one vaccine had been approved by the government for use against COVID-19, with administration underway. Local postal services are still challenged, so communication via our website portal or using a ChildFund card is best.
ChildFund’s normal programs have resumed with strict safety measures in place to protect staff and children, favoring virtual engagements wherever practical. We've reinforced protocols with our community partners and are diligent to follow health regulations in our activities. One example of our programming efforts is a vocational training course for young women with disabilities that was inaugurated in collaboration with the country's only Pizza Hut franchise owner and the federal government.
Connect with ChildFund Sri Lanka on Facebook to see more updates.
Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the Royal Thai Government has implemented new measures to decrease the spread. Our local partners in Thailand are in touch with enrolled families, monitoring them for needs including access to food, health care, hygiene supplies and clean water. Mail may experience delays.
We are continually working to protect children and families from the effects of the pandemic through our regular programming.
In Vietnam, since the new year, an increase in cases prompted stricter social distancing measures in specific localities. Schools remain in session, with the exception of those where there have been suspected cases of infected staff. As of early mid-March, COVID-19 vaccination programs have begun for defined priority groups. Mail delivery has stabilized.
Normal programming continues in our areas of operation, where there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 as of the last report. We continue to maintain readiness should we encounter a new wave. New projects such as Swipe Safe and the National Child Help Line are progressing and include activities incorporating lessons from the COVID-19 experience.
Connect with ChildFund Vietnam on Facebook to see more updates.