We have been in contact with our current project administrators to assess their situation after the emergence of the COVID-19 virus. Generally, they report that normal routines have been suspended as people are confined to their houses or have their movement restricted. Therefore, existing WRDF projects are generally on hold and will continue when circumstances permit.
Through these communications, it has become clear that many of the communities that we have supported are in desperate need of extra help to simply keep people alive due to shortages of food or water. For example, day labourer jobs have disappeared, physical movement has been restricted, food is scarce. People who were already vulnerable are now even more so, because of the lack of government social safety nets. These needs are outside the scope of our existing projects.
We have created the COVID-19 relief project that will deal with relief needs in multiple locations. This will not only be directed toward the communities in our current projects, but we are also trying to identify other communities linked to Wycliffe and SIL groups. The relationships we have with these groups will ensure that funds are well spent and accounted for.
We understand that all Australians are also facing challenging circumstances and financial resources may be under pressure at this time. However, if your circumstances allow, we encourage you to pray about supporting those who don’t have the protections that we do.
Update June/July 2020.
SAsia 1: The national government responded to the pandemic with a nation-wide lockdown and a media awareness campaign. Despite this action, the situation worsened in rural areas where WRDF partners with a local NGO working among four linguistic communities. Our partners made a quick survey of the plight. Many wage earners had suddenly lost their source of income due to the closure of businesses. There was a large exodus of itinerant labourers from their urban workplaces back to their villages. Roads that led to work sites were blocked. Families dependent on the sale of farm products were hampered by the closure of markets. Earning a livelihood became extremely difficult.
It was decided to provide emergency grocery kits to the worst affected communities. Through funding from the WRDF COVID-19 project, distribution was carried out between 26 May to 25 June, 2020. Four communities including 303 families comprising 1212 individuals received assistance. A woman from the ‘V’ community said with tears of gratitude: “You people are the first to visit us in all these days of the lockdown! Thank you so much for coming and bringing these life-saving goods for us.”
SAsia 2: Every day the number of infections and deaths are rising. There is panic and anxiety among the people. These minority language communities are in lockdown and their earnings from small factories, shops, markets and fruit orchards are no longer available to support their families.
The project supervisors decided to help the most vulnerable with funds for food. Families with female heads of house and those including someone with a disability, were prioritised for assistance. A total of 1,149 families were assisted over two phases of the relief program. Here is a testimony from one recipient”: “I am 70 years old. I don’t have son, I have only one daughter. I am living with her as I am not able to earn. My daughter works in field and we live on that small amount very poorly. My daughter had no work in this pandemic situation and she had no income. By this time we got ‘the assistance’, I said, “I will buy rice, meat and fish as we didn’t have any meat or fish in our meal for a long time”. What you have done today are unbelievable though you are unknown to us. But, please, visit us next time as our guest. I will always remember your favour.”
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