News from our local partners – supporting their communities during the pandemic

News from our local partners – supporting their communities during the pandemic

Article written by Dianne

During the last few months we have been working closely with all our local partners as they have found ways to support their communities in these unprecedented times. Here is my update on the work they have been doing.

The Gambia

Our local partner in The Gambia, Adama Bah, has co-written an article to highlight the serious impact the coronavirus pandemic on tourism in Africa and what some countries are doing to combat it.  You can read the full article here https://theconversation.com/african-tourism-has-been-put-on-ice-by-coronavirus-heres-how-some-countries-are-reviving-it-140508

The article details how tourist guides in a key tourist destination in The Gambia, Janjanbureh, have been retrained and redeployed to act as coronavirus guides for their local community.  ‘Bringing their leadership skills into use, youth trained in community-based tourism and tour guiding have sprung into action as first responders to protect their communities and build resilience against further impacts to the vulnerable tourism industry.
International Trade Centre in The Gambia engaged these young leaders from its community based tourism initiative and mobilized them with funding and resources to undertake an awareness campaign across the rural region of Janjanbureh, initiating the first critical step towards prevention.
They are placing informational posters on the virus and safety guidelines at prominent places, campaigning across social media platforms and installing hand-washing stations in markets and across town, helping provide practical solutions to the lack of hygiene checkpoints in the area.
These efforts will go a long way in containing the infection and building resilience in beautiful Janjanbureh.’

To find out more about volunteering in The Gambia follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/192/building-livelihoods-in-The-Gambia-(BA)

Madagascar

Our partners in Madagscar, SEED Madagascar, have set up a number of initiatives to support their local community.  You can read their full response here:

Some of their recent posts on Facebook and on their blog tell us:

Our current projects immediately adapted with staff providing COVID 19 information sessions and masks before meetings. Most notably SEEDs Rural CLTS work funded through UNICEF gave messages on handwashing to 7,742 people and taught 7,183 people how to build a simple household handwashing station.

 Radio messages in national and Anosy dialects on handwashing, social distancing, avoiding touching your face, coughing, and COVID-19 symptoms were developed and broadcast 160 times. 175 posters in accessible graphics and local language, covering preventative measures, were distributed to churches, schools, water points, and other key community hubs. SEED also ran a Malagasy-language social media campaign, publishing clear and concise public health messages, for example on preventative measures, COVID-19 symptoms and correct mask usage. SEED also provided a total of 33 handwashing stations to the rural communities of Sainte Luce and Mahatalaky, and in Fort Dauphin.

The coronavirus pandemic has made going to school difficult for many children and young people around the world. At SEED we are doing everything we can to ensure that pupils in Madagascar have a safe learning environment in which to receive and complete their education.  At Ranomafana High School, this commitment began long before the pandemic, when SEED undertook its largest construction project to date. The new school, which is the only upper secondary school in an 80km radius – has three classrooms, administrative offices, toilets and a water supply. Last month, the SEED team distributed 97 face masks to pupils and teachers so that they can safely go to lessons before this year’s final exams.

Madagascar reinstated lock down in Antananarivo after 216 people tested positive across the country in early July. Whilst this has temporarily closed SEED’s Tana office, teams across Anosy continue talking with people about COVID prevention. Over the past few months 9,365 people have attended these information sessions, 252 radio broadcasts have been made and 7,412 masks have been distributed. It will never feel enough, but we hope that this helps families across Anosy prepare for COVID.

A recent initiative is ‘Masks for Madagascar’.  This is a mask exchange programme – participants buy a mask for £5 and this funds 5 masks for distribution in Madagascar.  In its first three weeks more than £950 was raised through this initiative – this income stream funds masks made by Stitch Ste Luce and distributed in the village of Ste Luce, as well as schools, clinics and Government workers in the 9 village clusters and in support of SEEDs rural work.  If you would like to buy a mask to support SEED’s work in Madagascar follow this link

To find out more about volunteering in Madagascar follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/183/conservation-research-programme-in-Madagascar-(Con)

Eswatini (Swaziland)

In Eswatini efforts have been mainly focused on food distribution.  The Neighbourhood Care Points supported by our volunteer programme provide two meals a day for the children who attend, and without this source of food families are struggling.  In addition COVID-19 has devastated economies in Africa leaving many jobless & hungry – many vulnerable people lost their livelihoods as tourism crashed & their future is bleak. All Out Africa (our local partner) has been sourcing and delivering food parcels, sanitizer & poverty relief stipends to vulnerable families most impacted.

The Sports Development Coordinator has also been holding fitness sessions to make sure children are as fit as possible and are aware of how to keep themselves safe from the virus.

To find out more about volunteering in Eswatini follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/316/childcare-support-in-Swaziland-(CDS)

Morocco

For our partners in Morocco, Education For All, the priority was to make sure the girls from their boarding houses could continue their education.  Although the schools closed in March and the girls were sent home to their villages, the Baccalaureate exams were to take place as scheduled in July.  Whilst many students from cities such as Rabat and Casablanca were able to continue their studies at home online, for most of the girls at EFA, remote learning was impossible – most of them either did not have a device or could not afford the internet data charges needed to access the vital lessons and resources available online. The lockdown very much highlighted the huge digital divide faced by girls living in remote, rural areas.

For EFA, it is essential that young people do not miss out on education, whether due to geography, poverty, or pandemics. The girls have already overcome incredible obstacles to get the chance to continue their high school studies, and they did not want to let all their hard work go to waste so close to the end of their studies.  So a fundraising campaign was launched to buy and distribute tablets and SIM cards with internet data to the girls due to sit their high school leaving exams this summer.

June 3 marked the delivery of the first tablets to the girls. It was not easy to purchase or deliver these during the ongoing lockdown, but EFA was able to purchase and get the authorization to deliver them.

The smiles on the girls’ faces says it all!   They received the tablets just a few weeks before their final Baccalaureate exams and had been working as hard as they could in their remote villages, but were so worried about the work they had missed and are delighted that they can now catch up with the online lessons and resources provided by the Moroccan government.

Jamila is one of EFA’s final year students. A few days after she received her tablet she made this video on her new tablet – a touching expression of what this device means to her, and also what her access to technology has the power to convey. To watch her video click here 

To find out more about volunteering in Morocco follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/257/Education-Support-for-Girls-in-Morocco-(ED)

Cambodia

Ever since the lockdown started in March the team at Treak Community Centre have continued to provide education for their students.  They continue to distribute worksheets and other learning materials, including pencils, crayons and paper, twice a week – about 60% of students call in to collect the work which shows how eager they are to learn and parents and community leaders have told Dara (the head-teacher) how much they value the help that Treak Community Centre provides. 

In the last two months, in addition to distributing the very popular work books and activity sheets each Monday and Tuesday, Dara and his team have worked hard to develop and deliver online learning sessions for the students.  Work is coordinated through messages sent out on Facebook Messenger, links are sent to carefully selected videos and other learning materials available online such as youtube videos, and three times a week students log on for an online lesson using the video-conferencing platform Jitsi Meet.   Setting up an online teaching programme in a country with comparatively poor Internet access has been a challenge, but Dara and his team have met the challenge with commitment and resourcefulness.  Online staff meetings every Friday enable Dara to provide staff training and any challenges can quickly be addressed.  He has also provided training for teachers from other educational institutions in Cambodia – as schools will not now reopen until the end of the year there is a growing awareness of the need to provide a variety of learning methods for students.

The development of the new garden at Treak had to be put on hold to conserve funds, so Salin has been busy growing fruit and vegetables in her own garden and then collecting and drying seeds.  These were distributed to 30 families in Treak village so they too can grow their own food – they proved so popular that Salin had to buy some extra from the market!  The seed types include eggplant, wing bean, long bean, gourd and bitter gourd, morning glory, lettuce, chilli, plus various flowers including sunflower.  Seeds are relatively expensive in Cambodia and, once the school reopens, Salin will run demonstration sessions on how to save seeds and propagate plants and seedlings as she is very concerned that traditional skills are being lost.

Salin has also been working with Ra, the sewing teacher, to design and produce clothes patterns for students to use once the vocational training sessions can resume.  They have also been thinking about new items that could be sold as souvenirs.

To find out more about volunteering in Cambodia follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/278/children-belong-in-families—community-support-in-Treak%2c-Cambodia-(CW)

South Africa

Updates from our partners Good Work Foundation at Hazyview:

Once we realised the lockdown was going to continue for a while, it was time to get innovative:

How can we move our Careers Academy courses online?

We quickly began to do lectures and conversations using WhatsApp, with our GWF team quickly adapting to a new way of connecting with their students.

We also managed to get workbooks to all the students so they were keeping up with their courses.

In rural South Africa, not everyone has a Smart Device, and data availability can be an issue. So we decided to deploy some of our new Open Learning (children program) Tablets to our adult students, and with one of our partners, The Click Foundation, we organised unlimited data for each student.

With devices and data in place, we continued to evolve our standard contact courses into a more online format. This has meant a lot of trial and error as well as adaptation from our team.

It is not perfect yet, but we continue to improve it!

We have now moved to lockdown level 3 in South Africa, and so are able to open up the campuses to a limited extent: one third of students can be on campus at any time, less than 50 together. The adult students are now blending contact sessions with online connections.

It has been an interesting time, but we have learnt a lot in the process. We hope to continue with some of the changes we have made after we open up again more fully.

Our School program have not yet been able to open up, however we hope to be deploying our facilitators to support learners as they return to the local schools. We will be using the time to really evaluate, change, train and be ready to implement our open learning program when we are able to move children around again.

To find out more about volunteering in South Africa follow this link https://travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/projects/322/education-support-for-children-%26-young-adults-in-a-learning-centre-near-Kruger-Park-(ED)

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