Monday, April 6, 2020

Mission E4's Local and Global Response to COVID-19

Local and Global Response to COVID-19

As communities around the world are trying to figure out how to deal with Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the staff at Mission E4 are working hard to respond to the needs of the thousands of families we serve locally and around the world. As information and regulation is changing day-to-day, references in this blog are as of April 5, 2020.

Domestic Response
Massachusetts is still one of the highest states with the number of confirmed cases. As many of you know, this is the state that Mission E4 has been running its’ local outreach and programs with youth since 2005. We have adjusted the way we function and serve our community during this crisis. Following suit with local schools, we have not been meeting at our physical sites since the second week of March. 

The children, youth, and families that we serve almost immediately began to feel the effects of this. Many of the students in our programs rely heavily on the food they receive in school and at our after-school initiatives. Most of our program participants live in single guardian households. For the parents with employment, most do not have prearranged childcare. 

Local schools, along with non-profits like Mission E4 have quickly begun to work collaboratively to fill the gap in essential services. At both Mission E4 locations in Massachusetts, we have established food distribution programs. We are intentionally providing alternate times than are offered by other programs so that local families in need have greater access to nutritious meals from morning to evening and on the weekends.

In addition to food distribution, our leadership team is keeping up with each student to ensure their safety and to help provide daily social interaction. 

     Mission E4 is distributing between 250-500 "bag meals" (left) and about 30-50 "family Care Kits" (right) each week. 

Mission E4 is also now running online, interactive programs for children and teens that include Art Classes, Yoga, Tae Kwon Do, Games, Bible Studies, Worship Times, and more.

In order to provide the current level of support to the families we serve in Massachusetts, we are estimating that our immediate budgetary needs will increase by $1,000 per week, for a minimum of 10 weeks. This is double the normal food budget for our weekly youth programs. This could increase more if the crisis escalates. If you could assist us with any additional support towards the $10,000 needed, it would be greatly appreciated. 
Haiti Response
The economic crisis in Haiti is worse than we have ever witnessed. The United Nations (OCHA) reports that the number of Haitians dealing with food insecurity rose from 2.6 million in 2018 to 3.7 million in 2019. They were projecting the numbers to rise to 4.2 million by March, with more than 1.2 million at “emergency levels” of food insecurity. Children are literally starving to death. Sickness from malnutrition is at an all-time high. Current statistics show that 1 in 5 children in Haiti are malnourished, 1 in 10 are acutely malnourished and 1 in 14 will die before reaching the age of 5. Of the estimated 3,360,000 children under the age of 14 in Haiti, about 686,000 children are severely malnourished.

We have been building schools, feeding, educating, and providing medical care to children as fast as we are able to grow sustainably. With more than 3000 children in our school programs and almost 300 Haitian employees, it has been increasingly difficult to keep our “heads above water” in the face of a 17%+ inflation rate. We can’t realistically raise sponsorship rates to match the rate of inflation each year. So, each year, the purchasing power of our operating funds decreases in the midst of an economic disaster.

Now – enter the global pandemic of the Coronavirus. As of April 5th (12:26pm), there have only been 21 cases so far. We do not know at this point exactly how and where it will spread. However, as our economy struggles in the US, the economy in Haiti is affected 1000 times harder because of their reliance upon outside aid. As people here in the USA rightfully discuss concerns about how our hospitals could be pushed beyond capacity, should the virus spread quickly; how much more will the medical community in Haiti be unable to meet the demand? There is a saying amongst the Haitian people that says, “Le Etazini gin tet femal, Ayati manke mouri!” – “When the USA has a headache, Haiti is on its deathbed!

With so many sick from malnutrition, families with no health care nor access to even basic medicines (like Tylenol or cough syrup), how will this nation survive another disease outbreak? The Haitian people are resilient, and I know they will fight to survive unlike any other people I have met, but they desperately need our help! We are thrilled to see the steps that Haiti’s public health minister is taking in preparing the country for COVID-19, but each organization in the country needs to do our part.

The following is an outline for the immediate action plan Mission E4 intends to implement and the funding we will need to be able to pull this off. I know that each of us is dealing with our own concerns of how COVID-19 will affect us; those we love and our personal economy. We ask in this great moment of need that you would also remember the Haitian people.

2020 Critical Response Plan
Step #1 – Continue Feeding the Children while Schools are Closed - Sponsorship
In light of the first COVID-19 cases in Haiti, the president has issued an order to close all schools immediately. Our first step is to enact some changes to be able to continue to feed the children.
A)   Thankfully, because of our many sponsors, we will be able to continue feeding the children. Our team of teachers and directors are visiting each child’s home to drop off an entire month’s food supply for each student 
B)   We need sponsors for the 1000 children that are still not yet sponsored. If you are not yet doing this, would you consider sponsoring a child today? 

Step #2 - Institute Handwashing Program at all Schools - $18,000
A)   This step will be worked on quickly, so that when schools reopen, we can increase the level of personal and community health.
B)   Provide hand soap, clean water access (where not yet available), and handwash stations for 10 schools to institute supervised hand washing three times during school (entrance, mealtime, and departure), as well as at the latrines. These handwash stations will be build as permanent utilities at these schools, complete with new drainage systems. 
C)   Send community health workers to each location to train school staff.

Step #3 – Increase Clinic Capacity - $25,000
A)   Reopen our second clinic in Fauche, Haiti. We had to close this clinic due to budget cutbacks in 2019. However, in preparation for what is most likely coming (and with the increased cases of malnutrition) we need to reopen this clinic, hire two nurses, and fully stock this location with medicines. 
B)   Increase the stock of medicines at our Leogane clinic
C)   Add a nurse and increase the medical supplies at our Croix des Bouquet location
D)   Have a medical fund set up for the increased level of cases that we will need to refer out to local hospitals

Step #4 – Increase Custodial Staff at all Schools - $9,000
A)   Add one additional person on custodial staff at each school location. This provides employment for 10 more people and increases the capacity for clean school locations.

Step #5 – Improve Nutrition of School Meals – $54,000
A)   Add more fruits and vegetables to school meals by increasing the school food budget by 50 cents per child per week. 

Step #6 – Family Emergency Response Packs – $67,500
A)   Once the schools reopen, we will continue to provide supplemental food and supplies for the families we serve for 9 weeks. Packs will include rice, beans, tomato paste, oil, mosquito coils, and hand soap. At the end of each school week, each family will receive an Emergency Response Pack for the weekend ($5 cost – an estimated 1500 families/7500 people)

Step #7 – Economic Stimulus Package for all Employees - $30,000
A)   Each employee will receive a one-time, $100 bonus. The average employee currently makes about $150 per month. This additional income will reinforce other local business’, employing thousands.

Step #8 – Mission E4 – Emergency Fund - $75,000
A)   This would be equivalent to our average Haiti budget for one month and allow us to sustain ups and downs in our revenue during 2020

2020 Critical Response Plan – Total for Haiti            $278,500

This plan is designed to stabilize 1500 families with an estimated total of 7500 individuals (including 4500 children) during 2020. Would you help Mission E4 to successfully do our part in helping the Haitian people through this unprecedented time of crisis?
South Asia Response
Our schools in South Asia were shut down by government order until March 31st. During the month of March, we moved all classes to an online platform. We dropped from 300 students at one of our locations down to about 50. Internet is “spotty” in some of the rural areas and made this switch impossible for many students. It is likely that this change will need to continue into June. We are in regular communication with our leaders there to determine how to best help them in this time of need. Please pray for our work in South Asia during these trying times.

Albania and Kosovo Response
As of this article, Albania has reported 361 cases. The government has taken a VERY strong position on closing things down. Kosovo is caught up in political turmoil in the midst of trying to figure out how to deal with the Coronavirus. We are in touch with our partners in these countries. Scott and Tanya Long we supposed to be traveling there in May. This trip will have to be delayed for a couple of months. In the meantime, we are committed to supporting our partners during these difficult days ahead.