As the world struggles to manage the spread of COVID-19, Hope and Healing International is keeping our focus on children living in deep poverty with disability.
A message from our Executive Director
I don’t know how your Christmas is shaping up this year. I know for my family, Christmas is looking a lot different. And honestly… that’s hard.
There’s uncertainty around the holidays when normally it’s a time of joy, peace, hope. Maybe you’ve felt the heaviness too.
It’s almost like the pandemic has stolen some of our hope. And without hope…joy and peace have disappeared too. Some of us may even be afraid to hope because we don’t want to be disappointed.
I know a young mom in Zambia who was afraid to hope – her name is Betty. She went into early labour with her first child. And when her baby boy was born, he weighed only 2lbs and 7ozs.
Betty didn’t give him a name.
In some places in Africa, parents don’t name a child if they don’t think the child will survive. For Betty, it would be too hard to name her precious newborn, only to lose him soon after. It would be weeks before Betty had the courage and hope to name her little boy.
And I think of another child who was born at an unexpected time. A baby boy whose name would be Jesus, “God saves.”
And I’m reminded that Jesus is our hope this season. In the face of all the questions, all the fears, all the anxieties, you and I have the assurance that Jesus is with us. That Jesus saves.
And that’s still true even in the middle of a pandemic.
I said earlier that when our hope disappears, joy and faith seem to disappear too. And I think the antidote to fading hope is faith.
Faith that God is still good.
Faith that we can trust God even when we’re afraid.
In a time when everything seems upside down, you and I have the comfort that God is with us.
And faith in those promises feeds our hope.
This Christmas, I’m praying that Jesus would be your hope, that He would fill you with joy and peace even in this unexpected year. May the love of God bring you comfort.
And may you bravely lean into the hope our Saviour brings – a hope that does not disappoint.
COVID-19 infection and death rates throughout Africa and much of the developing world continue to be lower than reported cases in North America and Europe. While this is partly explained by lack of widespread testing, other factors include: a swift response by many governments accustomed to fighting high HIV rates, Ebola and Cholera outbreaks; weather that allows people to be largely outside year-round and a proportionally younger population.
However, the children and families we serve are at higher risk of contracting and succumbing to the virus. And they are most vulnerable to the economic pressures resulting from the pandemic. A report released at the end of November analyzes the impact COVID-19 has had on people with disabilities, and the report includes those in rural areas.
The pandemic has affected families like Chisomo’s (child in grey) and what rehabilitation he can receive.
- Children with disabilities don’t have access to essential healthcare, respite care, rehabilitation or education during the pandemic.
- People with disabilities are living in insolation with no community help, and many express deep concern about the mental health repercussions of the isolation.
- Women and girls with disabilities have experienced increased assault and violence during the pandemic.
- COVID-19 education isn’t accessible to many people with disabilities, leaving them defenseless against the virus.
- Families with disability who live in rural areas face additional barriers to receive food, medication and health care.
- We’ve worked with local partners to give 96,322 people with disabilities accessible COVID-19 prevention education in various locations, including rural areas.
- Together with Canadians, we’ve provided emergency food packages containing grain and oil to 6,600 families living in poverty with disability.
- We’ve worked together with partners and governments to continue to provide safe, essential healthcare for children with disabilities, including life-saving procedures like cleft lip and palate surgeries.
- We’ve made our plans and funding more flexible so we can respond quickly and skillfully to pandemic-related needs.
A desperate grandmom in northwest Kenya receives life-saving food supplies for her family
- All facilities have experienced increased costs while facing reduced funding. Increased costs include greater demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning materials, as well as inflated costs for medicines.
- Partners are responding to requests for additional services by vulnerable patients and clients in desperate need of food and hygiene supplies.
- Medical staff face increased pressure and trauma as they navigate the fear of contracting the virus, losing their job due to funding cuts or unknowingly transmitting the virus to their families.
- Social distancing protocols have added complexity to service delivery. For example, peer support groups and group physiotherapy have either been suspended or are being delivered one patient at a time.
- We’ve been working with partners to develop innovative solutions to the lack of PPE including implementing tele-health consultations where possible and using the 3D printers – that Hope and Healing provided for printing prosthetics and orthotics – for the added purpose of printing PPE visors.
- We’ve shipped PPE and other urgently-needed equipment and supplies to our partners through our gift-in-kind donation program. Masks and respirators we shipped more than a year ago have become divinely ordained blessings in the middle of this crisis.
- We continue to stay current on the various medical and economic situations surrounding our partners and to offer support wherever possible.
- We’ve increased our funding flexibility and responsiveness to allow partners to address and meet immediate needs within hospitals and organizations.
Managing COVID-19 here in Canada
Hope and Healing staff members continue to work from home, with the exception of essential core services. All employees in the office undergo daily COVID-19 screenings and are spaced throughout our building to ensure the health and safety of all. We continue to follow all government regulations as they become available and remain committed to this life-changing work.