Our response to the Coronavirus - Kids Alive International : Kids Alive International

 

Coronavirus – Update #7

September 28, 2020

When we posted our first coronavirus response message over six months ago, few of us had any idea that we would reach the Fall still sharing updates and watching the death toll rise around the world. Last week the U.S. reached the sad milestone of 200,000 lives lost, and worldwide there have been nearly 33,000,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost a million deaths. But what we do know through it all is God’s faithfulness and the opportunity to make His Name known in all we do.

As we head into the fourth quarter of 2020, many of the initial adjustments made in the Spring continue. Last week we determined that our International Office in Indiana will remain closed through the end of 2020, with a re-evaluation in December regarding a partial re-opening in January. This, of course, will depend on the current health statistics as well our employees’ health needs, responsibilities to care for and teach their children, and considerations of at-risk family members.

Kids Alive recently relaxed travel restrictions for our missionaries, allowing those who had been waiting in the US to return to their homes on the field, and giving those who remained on the field an opportunity to travel back to the U.S. to visit family and friends after the long period of quarantine. We are, however, delaying the sending of new missionaries and interns to the field until January 2021, due to the complexities of quarantine restrictions, acculturation, visas, health insurance, etc.

All our countries remain in various stages of quarantine, curfews, school closures, travel restrictions, and economic recovery. For example:

  • Most countries where we minister are still under a state of emergency with curfews and travel restrictions.
  • We continue to see a great need for laptops, tablets, and data plans for kids whose families don’t have access to these.
  • Several of our countries are maximizing this time by conducting staff training on wellness and self-care.
  • Food support is continuing in many countries where families are struggling with the rising costs of food and little to no income.
  • We are working on developing the logistics and measuring the impact of school openings where regulations mandate 50% capacity.
  • Lebanon is conducting special camps for kids and families impacted by COVID effects and the devastating August 4 explosion in Beirut.

Even in the midst of the pandemic and states of emergencies, many core ministry functions continue, such as criminal prosecutions and custody cases in Guatemala where three children were recently moved from residential to foster care. We are also continuing our efforts to bring Kingdom principles to child protection systems.

We are eager to resume sending Service Teams in 2021. Currently, our staff are connecting through Virtual Service Team experiences. This opportunity provides exposure to the challenges our kids face, such as what distance learning looks like for students who live in homes built out of refrigerator crates and corrugated tin, and what the loss of a daily school lunch can mean for a child’s health. These events include devotional components, interaction with our Country/Site Directors and national staff, prayer requests, the latest news on our countries’ COVID-19 status, and opportunities for Child Sponsorship and Site Partnerships.

As always, we remain committed to sharing the Good News with vulnerable children and families, bringing them hope for both an earthly and eternal future. Please continue to pray that God will provide for the needs of our children through our most critical fourth quarter of this very unusual year.


Coronavirus – Update #6

July 25, 2020

Kids Alive continues monitoring national and global health data as we attempt to keep our children and staff safe and act as good neighbors to our world. Trend lines for COVID-19 cases in 25 states are still on an upward trajectory, and many countries in the developing world still have not “flattened the curve,” keeping health care infrastructures stressed and at times far beyond their ability to cope.

These developments have certainly changed the shape of our day-to-day work in many cases, but we are privileged to bring relief and spiritual comfort to thousands experiencing hopelessness and despair.

Factors of note:

  • Economic conditions have continued to deteriorate in some of our countries, creating unemployment as high as 98% among some of the families of our children
  • Kids Alive is still supplying many of our communities with food, hygiene supplies, and information about how to protect health and how to safely care for those who contract COVID-19
  • On July 20, a state of emergency was declared in Dominican Republic for the next 45 days
  • Many of our children are having difficulty obtaining routine and even emergency medical care because health care systems have no capacity to handle anything other than COVID cases

Kids Alive, along with most nonprofits in the country and around the world, continues to evaluate the COVID-19 situation and adjust our policies and procedures during the often swiftly changing circumstances. Currently, we have placed a moratorium on all non-essential international travel for Kids Alive employees and missionaries until at least October 1. Air travel carries a high risk of exposure, and many countries where we serve have health care systems that are already overwhelmed. Therefore, we will not put our employees, the children we care for, or the communities we serve at risk by allowing travel to or from these areas other than for approved emergencies.

We will continue to review government advice and health recommendations as the situation develops to inform our decision making.

While these restrictions do place a limitation on some of our work, we know that the Lord has designed ways for each of us to be powerful agents of His grace no matter our circumstances or locations, and for that we can be truly thankful.

Coronavirus – Update #5

July 2, 2020

We are now entering the second half of 2020, a year whose surprises and uncertainties could not have been more unwelcome in many ways. Nevertheless, our God is faithful in the midst of this and all other storms, and we continue asking Him to calm the storm and to make us wise as we wait.

Just in the past month, official global figures of those infected with the coronavirus have risen from 6 million to well over 10 million, and known deaths from COVID-19 are over half a million. In some places we serve, 80% of residents being tested are positive, and some of our staff have lost family members to the disease. We are still giving thanks that none of the children in our care have tested positive, and we continue following the strictest protocols to keep them and our staff safe.

Other factors of note:

  • Many of our countries have experienced increasing instability in their economies, including wildly fluctuating currency rates and inflation
  • Kids Alive is maintaining vigorous efforts to supply our communities with food, hygiene supplies, and information about how to protect health and how to safely care for those who contract COVID-19
  • In Haiti, where part of the country has been without electricity for over three weeks, our newly installed solar power system has kept the Children’s Village reliably and adequately powered, a tremendous blessing
  • Several of our Service Teams who were not able to go to the field this year are eagerly anticipating and making plans to travel in 2021 where conditions allow

Two months ago, it appeared that the US was making rapid progress in slowing the spread of the virus and might be almost completely re-opened by the end of the summer. Sadly, we are now considered the world’s COVID-19 hotspot, with alarming surges in many states. Accordingly, plans for re-opening in many places have been slowed or reversed, and Kids Alive has decided to delay the re-opening of our International Office on the guidance of the governor and the Indiana State Department of Health. And the organization will continue its suspension of all non-essential travel.

As always, our International Office staff are available to you by phone or email should you have questions or need assistance. And we continue to pray for you, as we know there are challenges for all of us through these difficult times!

Coronavirus – Update #4

June 2, 2020

As we enter the sixth month of the global coronavirus pandemic, we continue to both grieve at the devastation and give thanks for God’s presence as we walk through this season.

There have now been over 6 million cases worldwide, with more than 375,000 deaths. But numerous organizations and research arms have warned that deaths from secondary impacts promise to dwarf the number who die from COVID-19.

This represents an unmatched health and economic crisis that threatens to reverse the development progress of recent years. And the impact of the virus is expected to be greater among those already grappling with severe poverty, food scarcity, and malnutrition.

As of the beginning of June, we are grateful to report that we have had no children or staff hit with the virus, though some of our staff members in other countries have had cases in their immediate families. At each of our residential sites, we continue to reserve safe spaces to isolate any child or staff member who shows symptoms or is known to have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The greatest impact we’ve seen is in our communities, where the parents of our school children, most already living in crippling poverty, have lost their livelihoods and, in too many cases, their ability to feed their children even one meal a day. Some of our sites are working around curfews and other regulations to deliver basic foods and hygiene supplies to families; other sites are preparing and delivering cooked meals in the community several times a week.

Our family of supporters have shown remarkable compassion and generosity in giving toward these ongoing projects. And we are grateful to have increased contacts with families in our communities, building bridges and sharing the good news of the Gospel with people desperate for His hope.

In some of our countries, governments are making plans to reopen schools in the next few weeks, many with strict protocols and precautions. While we welcome these developments, we will also have to consider further economic impact: transportation costs for our kids will increase because buses and vans will have to operate “half-full” and make twice as many trips; classes will be limited in size which means total school hours will be longer, increasing utility and staffing costs; and the cleaning of both vehicles and classrooms will occupy many hours of paid time.

Nevertheless, we long for a resumption of personal ministry to these kids on a daily basis, and we rejoice at every small move toward this personal care.

In addition to the ministry and office adjustments listed in our last update, we have made the decision, based on government advice and an abundance of caution, to keep our International Office closed until after the 4thof July weekend. If you need us, we’re available by phone, email, or our website (https://www.kidsalive.org/contact-us/). Please watch this space for further updates.

And for country-specific responses to the pandemic and prayer requests from our sites, be sure to click on the links in the right-hand sidebar and hear the hearts of our Country Directors!


Coronavirus – Update #3

April 22, 2020

As the global pandemic reaches into all of the countries where we serve, Kids Alive is working to keep our kids safe and healthy, continue their learning where possible, and reach out with food and support to families in our communities impacted by economic downturns. The needs are increasing, and we value your support and prayers.

Developments in the COVID-19 crisis continue to change, sometimes daily, and Kids Alive is making adjustments in programs, personnel responsibilities, budgets, and community activities in an effort to make the most of our donors’ funds and of the current opportunities to bring hope and comfort.

In addition to the initial actions taken by Kids Alive in March, which included travel restrictions, closing of our offices, hygiene and social distancing practices at all sites, etc., the lengthening crisis has necessitated additional measures across some or all of our countries depending on the types of ministries. Each week our COVID-19 Task Force continues to refine existing precautions, re-examine our expenditures in light of the most pressing needs, and respond to new considerations on our fields. Some of these include:

  • Re-purposing funds and stocks of basic foods to help feed the families of our kids who can no longer eat at school and whose parents have lost their livelihoods
  • Ensuring that children continue lessons, using online teaching, photocopied school materials, phone calls, and TV programs
  • Establishing WhatsApp loops for families of our students, giving them a way to stay informed, ask questions, and network
  • Setting up daily schedules and routines to keep our residential children busy with games, sports, and Bible studies, and educational programs
  • Monitoring children and their families for stress and offering psychological and spiritual services where needed
  • Preparing safe areas where children and staff could be comfortably quarantined if necessary

Please continue to pray with us as we seek to minister God’s love to vulnerable children and their families. Pray that He will meet every need and that He will allow us to be alert for increased opportunities to share Christ with those feeling forgotten and hopeless!


Coronavirus – Update #2

March 16, 2020

Kids Alive is continuing to monitor Coronavirus developments and make daily adjustments as necessary for the protection of the children we serve and our staff – both in the US and at our ministry sites in twelve countries.

With the global crisis still on the rise, the numbers of infected and the effects on health care systems and economies change hourly. Our ministries are likely to be impacted. Consequently, we are taking proactive steps to protect the health of our kids and staff, and we are increasing our emphasis on being good global citizens by helping to prevent the spread of the virus. These steps include:

  • Postponing all non-essential air travel, inside or outside the US, through May 31
  • Delaying of all Service Teams scheduled before May 31
  • Eliminating meetings and events of 10 or more people
  • Delivering essential messaging of hygiene and social distancing practices
  • Increasing communication with all our countries ensuring precautions are followed
  • Providing frequent updates to US and international staff regarding changing advisories
  • Monitoring of official and reputable sources for the latest developments, including:

Additionally, in keeping with our commitment to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, the Kids Alive International Office in Valparaiso will be closed for at least the next ten days. During this time our staff will be working remotely, and though we will attempt to create smooth adjustments we know there may be unforeseen delays as we make the shift. Please be patient with us if some processes and responses are slower than usual.

We will continue to keep our Kids Alive family updated as needed, so please check this space for changes that affect our kids and all those who serve them. Pray with us that God will heal the afflicted and comfort the fearful during these uncertain times.


Our response to the Coronavirus

March 12, 2020

Kids Alive is taking the widening threat of the Coronavirus very seriously. The changes brought about by the virus’s spread are already affecting many, if not most, of our family of supporters, and you maybe be concerned about the effects on the children we serve. Currently, we have no reports of any of our children or staff diagnosed with COVID-19, and for this, we are extremely grateful.

We are actively working on the prioritization and allocation of resources to ensure escalated health and hygiene procedures and practices at all our sites as well as our International Office. In addition, we are:

  • Providing training to staff in all our countries, including raising awareness on the virus, how it spreads, how risk can be mitigated, recognizing symptoms, monitoring and reporting of cases, and securing treatment when necessary
  • Creating awareness among all children in our homes, schools, and care centers to be vigilant and mitigate risk, training them in washing hands, helping to keep surfaces clean, following preventive practices while coughing and sneezing, etc.
  • Postponing all Service Team trips and all non-essential international and air travel for staff between now and May 31

We are closely monitoring the developments with the Coronavirus via CDC, WHO and other credible sources to ensure we are well-positioned to respond to any developments at our sites. Because many of the Coronavirus symptoms and the methods of transmission overlap with the common cold and the familiar influenza, it is important to be extremely vigilant – especially during and after travel – for the onset of symptoms and for possible avenues of exposure.

We are committed to keeping our donors, sponsors, and other partners up to date on any news related to this current crisis, especially developments that could affect our staff, kids, and those planning travel to our ministry sites.

Thank you for praying with us for the safety of our children, for the dedicated workers responsible for their care, and for all those who give selflessly during the year by traveling to our sites and supporting the work there.

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