COVID-19 presented many challenges for the seven Kids Alive schools in the Dominican Republic. Our first priority became keeping the children, their families, and our employees safe from a new and deadly disease about which little was known. Secondly, when schools were closed and the country locked down in mid-March, we had the challenge of continuing the education and emotional care for 2,000 impoverished children with difficult family situations. Finally, with massive unemployment (we estimate 80-90% of our school families are currently unemployed with no savings or credit), and no school breakfasts and lunches, many of our children and their families quickly began to suffer from lack of food.
Our staff responded quickly and creatively. We created protocols for handwashing, social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing groceries, and began distributing information to families in various ways, including video clips they could watch on cell phones. Additionally, our teachers and counselors worked with parents to get classroom study material, family devotionals, and other activities into the home as well as help create healthy routines for the children with so much time in their little homes. Furthermore, we fora limited time we transitioned in one aspect to a relief organization, and with the help of generous donors grew our food distribution to feed over 1,200 families regularly during the quarantine period which recently ended. Our relief work is likely to continue for the next several months on a lesser level as parts of the economy remain shut and many children and their families lack adequate food.