Earlier this week, WHO declared COVD-19 a pandemic. We recognize that we are living in a time of anxiety and stress, and wanted to provide an update on our current operations and response to the situation.
How does this affect GAiN?
The Government of Canada recently advised Canadians to avoid all non-essential international travel. As an organization that works globally, this affects GAiN in many ways.
We would like to assure you that as of now, we are still operating and our work in the field is continuing as usual.
LIFE Team updates
Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our volunteers and staff. In light of the most recent travel advisory and because of the uncertainty related to travel, we have made the decision to cancel our May Paraguay LIFE Team, operated in partnership with Power to Change Students.
The status of our August LIFE Team to India is currently on a wait-and-see status. As we continue to monitor all government recommendations related to travel, we will make a decision closer to the application deadline (June 15).
Are we doing anything in the field?
Our work in Togo, Benin and Tanzania, has involved hygiene and sanitation trainings, long before COVID-19. Having worked with many rural communities and local health centres, we know the impact that knowledge, education and proper implementation of hygiene and sanitation can have on a community.
For our in-country teams, we are actively monitoring the situation and are preparing a plan in the event that drilling operations need to be shut down and teams need to be pulled from villages.
“Our international teams have been updated on information specific to COVID-19 and supported to practice frequent handwashing, social distancing as needed, and recognition of respiratory symptoms requiring medical attention,” says Joel Bond, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Project Coordinator for GAiN, and RN. “Information has been changing on a daily basis so we are monitoring the situation closely and will continue communication with our country managers.”
And as usual, our teams are continuing work in villages to promote proper handwashing.
As of March 13, there has been one reported case of COVID-19 in Togo. So far, the situation seems to be under control and national health authorities are emphasizing the importance of good hygiene (specifically handwashing) practices to the people of Togo.
We are also in contact with our partner in Syria, as the Syrian government has just declared that it is closing everything down until April.
As a result, the church in Damascus has cancelled all meetings. The church is currently in an emergency situation. At the moment, we are doing our best to figure out how to handle the thousands of people who are attending and visiting the church.
Ways you can help
We are continuing to monitor the news and keep updated on the situation as things are constantly changing. While this can feel like a time of great uncertainty, we wanted to share our response to the situation.
At GAiN, our mission is to reveal hope and restore life to people living in crisis and injustice. We hope to continue to demonstrate the love of God in practical ways, not just overseas but also in our own communities. Here are some of the ways that we can do this at this time:
1) Prioritize the health and safety of yourselves and others.
We believe that as responsible citizens, we should prioritize limiting the spread of the disease. Continue to wash hands properly and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Keep at least one metre distance between yourself and people who may be sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Either sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow.
If you’re feeling symptoms of COVID-19, (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/symptoms.html#s), stay at home and isolate as quickly as possible.
2) Be a light in your community.
In this time of anxiety and fear, people need encouragement now, more than ever. Although we may have to limit social gatherings, it’s important to continue to care for one another as best as possible. This could mean calling to check in on someone who may be lonely or afraid. Be open to listening to one another and offer to pray for each other.
“A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34 (NIV)
Part of being responsible citizens is avoiding panic buying and hoarding. This can leave people who live day-to-day without the necessities.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, of love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
It’s also good to be aware of false information that may circulate online and be careful not to spread it. Be sure to get accurate information and news from credible sources.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)