Hope in Hard Places: COVID-19 Philippines
It might feel like the whole world is on its knees praying that the COVID-19 pandemic will end soon as the pandemic continues in more than 190 countries despite strict measures being put in place. Community quarantines, “lockdowns”, social distancing, sanitation product shortages, food rationing, and ill-equipped medical facilities.
Amidst these challenges, Child Champions in the Philippines are finding creative ways to reach affected children and their families.
Relief packs with rice, canned goods, milk, vitamins, and sanitary items are distributed by Child Champions in the children’s homes.
“In the market, people are hoarding supplies and there’s a long line in buying food,” Hope Center Director Eva Torino says.
With a nationwide community quarantine, the Philippine government set limits on basic needs like food and sanitary supplies to prevent hoarding.
To address this situation, Child Champions provided rice, canned goods, milk, instant noodles, vitamins, soap and hand sanitizers to all registered children. One Hope Center (PH-201) even thought of a practical way to address the shortage of disinfectant products. They made a disinfectant solution from 1 part bleach and 9 parts water and put it in plastic bottles to distribute. Another Hope Center (PH-202) created a mini grocery store for th impoverished community it serves. “We opened our store so that members of the church can buy groceries. We are asking donors …(for)… help,” said Child Champion Daniel Cosico.
Child Champions are quick to think of ways on how to bring help to the children when the community quarantine started to be implemented.
With children unable to attend school or Hope Centers, Child Champions are addressing learning activities, “since Hope Center activities are canceled, Hope Center facilitators will give worksheets for the children to memorize while staying at home,” Hope Center Director Fely Pabalate (PH-105) says. Child Champions are equipping parents to assist with their children’s education, connecting through group text messages, phone calls or chat groups. “We created parents’ group chats and are conducting house-to-house visitation as needed,” a Child Champion from San Fernando Hope Center (PH-009) says.
The smiles bring encouragement to Child Champions doing all the hard work in bringing help to children.
Child Champions are also volunteering to walk around the community to bring help to children. “We take serious precautionary measures and pray that God will protect us as we distribute food to families,” says Lanilyn Flores, Hope Center Director (PH-203). “A support system is important in this moment, not just materially but socially, emotionally and spiritually,” says Mhillex Montano, Program and Partnership Facilitator of OneChild in the Philippines. “Encouraging and praying for one another is indeed effective to survive every day!”
Precautionary measures like hand sanitizing and social distancing are being observed during relief distribution.
There is still a lot of work to be done and prayers to be uttered not just today but in the coming days, weeks and months until the crisis ends. Child Champions will remain committed to care for children’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support, to bringing hope in hard places in the face of COVID-19.