Image: Caritas India
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Since then, there has been a spike in humanitarian needs. Countries across Asia are facing various difficulties due to lockdowns which result in the closure of factories and leaving many unemployed.
The loss of employment and income has left many individuals and families in Myanmar, Vietnam etc. unable to afford basic necessities and food for sustenance. These places face a mounting issue of hunger and starvation among the poorer communities.
There has been a shortage of personal protection equipment for medical personnel and volunteers in many countries including the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia, leaving them vulnerable to the virus. Prices for such medical supplies have also surged, and distribution has been increasingly difficult due to lockdowns, as well as import/export limitations.
Many in countries such as India and Bangladesh also face poor access to basic amenities like clean water and sanitation supplies, making them vulnerable to other illnesses like water-borne diseases. This is especially prevalent among the refugees, displaced migrant workers and those in rural areas of impoverished communities.
To alleviate the burden on those who are greatly affected by the pandemic, CHARIS has set aside S$500,000 from our Humanitarian Aid Fund (HAF) to aid in initiatives such as providing essential healthcare items such as 3-ply surgical masks, Alcohol Hand Sanitizers, and Nitrile Gloves. We have also supported the distribution of food packages for families and individuals starving due to loss of income. Apart from monetary donations, we are also developing simple infographics and collating resources, to aid in raising awareness on self-protection and methods of slowing community spread.
Internally, as CHARIS, we have implemented our Business Continuity Plan to ensure that we can still continue our work whilst protecting each other. As per the measurements set in place by the local government, CHARIS office will be closed from 7 April to 4 May. The team is working remotely to ensure help reaches those in need.
Mission trips have been postponed till further notice and travel advisory has been issued to our Affiliates to suspend overseas travels. However, we are still providing grant funding to overseas communities in need.