“When our first three coronavirus positive cases were detected and declared by our Bangladesh government, our program community people in the slums became very afraid of COVID-19. The first time they heard of the coronavirus, [they had] no details,” says Mili, who implements World Vision’s Child Protection project in the slums of southern Bangladesh. “Their apprehension gradually reduced when World Vision started working in partnership with the parents and a child forum.”
On July 7, 2020, World Vision released a major report called Out of Time. World Vision gathered field-level data from 24 countries. We surveyed 14,000 households in Asia, over 2,400 small business owners across Africa, and more than 360 Venezuelan migrants across Latin America.
World Vision's assessments show that COVID-19 is already affecting parents' and caregivers' ability to meet the needs of their children. Our assessment confirms that projections made by the UN and other global agencies about the impact of the pandemic on the extreme poor are already happening.
Seated on the ground, 13-year-old Ivy eloquently reads a book in her mother tongue as she leans against the wall of a small mudbrick house in southern Zambia’s Moyo community. In the day’s twilight, the sun pleasantly beams onto her face in beautiful gold.
Ivy has mastered reading despite now having to learn on her own due to the impact of the coronavirus. Ivy and about 100 other children in her village used to meet at a reading camp—established with the help of World Vision—where they learned to read, write and play.
The wave of fear remains as the coronavirus continues to impact many lives all over the world. Forty-two-year-old Florence Hachiyona of the Moyo community in southern Zambia likens the COVID-19 era as “facing a double-edged sword.”
“After hearing what the coronavirus can do and that it had reached Zambia, fear besieged me. I started [having] sleep-less nights. I thought it was over for me. Being HIV positive already, I fear contracting another virus because I would die faster and leave my children alone to suffer,” says Florence, a mother of four.
There is so much to lament in our world today – a global pandemic, economic downturn, social/political/racial tensions. We face our own humanity and mortality on a daily basis. We know of people with serious health issues and we fear for them this deadly spreading virus. We know people who have lost jobs. We know those who suffer from isolation, anxiety, and depression.
We feel the malaise in our own souls as well. The unknown is becoming greater than the known. We cannot predict our schedules, our safety, our health. Trips have been cancelled indefinitely. Jobs are virtual and virtual feels distant. School for our children is not something we can count on. The experts disagree on so many things, and we don’t know what we don’t know.
“Just the week before [the] lockdown started in our area I filled my store with new goods. I brought mostly the kitchen items like [the] electric kettle, fan, iron, gas stove, and rice cooker. I invested all the savings that I earned from my tailoring store,” says Sahinoor, 35, an entrepreneur and a single mother who is raising her two children Shanta, 15, and Shourav, 7. She lives in a slum in Khulna, a city in southern Bangladesh.
We’ve likely all had an experience of life changing in an instant. Maybe it was the birth of a first child, the unexpected loss of a loved one, or bad news about a job. Whatever it was, life was irrevocably altered after.
For millions of refugees, the life-changing experience might involve armed conflict, a natural disaster, or persecution. And it can propel them into uncertain and dangerous places, with few options to build better futures.
The impact of COVID-19 has changed the entire world. In one community in Bangladesh, a Hidden Hero has emerged to help slow the spread. Meet Rumi, a 16-year-old who lives in a slum with her parents and brother Rummon (9) in southern Bangladesh. “I mostly invest my time helping my parents in household chores, playing with my younger brother and messaging my community with my peers. My school and life have greatly changed…now I spend my days at home to stay safe from the coronavirus contamination. I miss my normal days,” says Rumi. She completed high school this year and now disseminates life-saving messages to communities through the Chader Alo (“moonlight”) Child Forum mobilized and inspired by World Vision’s Area Program in Barishal City.
Mugombwa, a refugee camp in southern Rwanda, currently hosts over 10,400 Congolese refugees. Gabriella, a 7-year-old girl in Mugombwa, smiles every time she washes her hands after using the toilet because she believes good handwashing is an effective way to prevent the spread of diseases, including COVID-19, Ebola, intestinal worms and diarrhea. The camp’s water supply system was constructed last year and has the capacity to serve the entire camp, plus the neighboring host communities.
Ask any mother what she wants more than anything in the world, and she’ll likely say, “for my children to be safe, healthy, and happy.” For mothers living in extreme poverty, this gift is hard to come by … especially now with the threat of COVID-19. But people like Gertrude Jima (pictured right) are at the forefront of giving moms what they want most – access to knowledge and resources that empower them to care for their children.