“To our sponsors in Australia, we are very thankful for your support and prayer. Together we will beat this pandemic. Thank you for everything.”
Thank you for your loving support and care for your sponsored children during this global pandemic. We are conscious that now, more than ever, it is important for us to stay connected with each other and for you to know what is happening with your sponsored child.
We hope this page will help to answer some of your questions and keep you informed about how Covid is affecting your sponsored child’s community, and how your sponsorship is providing vital support as the impact spreads around the world. We are working closely with our Christian partners in the field to monitor and respond to the situation in each community.
Due to COVID-19, our project communities have faced increased risk of school dropout rates, economic hardship, food shortages and compounding health challenges. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our frontline Christian partners in Bangladesh have been working hard to support sponsored children and their families to reduce these vulnerabilities as best they can.
Sponsored children and their families are becoming more resilient to the impacts of COVID-19, thanks to our local partners distributing health information and training community leaders on how to prevent outbreaks. A small number of cases have been reported in our project areas, and those who have been affected have received medical care. Cases have been contained and the situation continues to be monitored. Some staff have now been vaccinated against COVID-19 and are in the process of preparing our project areas for the government vaccine rollout.
Protecting the most vulnerable sponsored children and their families is a priority for our partners. Those facing extreme poverty within our project areas have received food to prevent starvation and farming resources to increase crop yields and boost incomes. Our partners also supplied further hygiene items, including masks and medicated soap, to more than 2,150 community members. In addition to these initiatives, our partners have also increased access to clean water for drinking and washing hands to further protect sponsored children from outbreaks.
Our local Christian partners in Cambodia have worked tirelessly to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for sponsored children and their families. COVID-19 has meant that project communities in Cambodia have faced increased risk of permanent school dropouts, domestic violence, and mental health challenges.
During lockdown, our partners are keeping in contact with sponsored children and their families through phone calls and child-friendly social media. Through phone mentoring, partner staff are providing COVID-19 awareness training to village leaders. They also use phone communication to mentor sponsored children on how to protect themselves from abuse. In addition to these efforts, many families are accessing mental health support through a phone counselling service.
Since the start of the pandemic, online education systems have enabled sponsored children to continue learning and have prevented many children from dropping out of school permanently. Most schools have reopened across the country as of January.
Staff from our local Christian partner, Church and Society Program Malawi (CSP Malawi), continue to support sponsorship activities through phone calls and community-based leaders. Project staff have been adapting project activities to reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19. This includes addressing reduced family income, school dropouts and increased child marriage rates.
CSP Malawi are focusing on COVID-19 prevention activities and strengthening local health facilities. They continue to provide personal protective equipment and are distributing health information to prevent outbreaks in sponsorship communities. Project staff and community leaders have been pleased to see that cases of other preventable illnesses in the community have significantly dropped due to better hygiene practises across project areas.
We are glad to report that schools have reopened across our sponsorship communities in Malawi. Children now wear masks at school, social distance and regularly wash their hands. Reopening of schools mean that sponsored children will be less vulnerable to child marriage. Thanks to the hard work of the CSP team in running activities by distance during lockdown, 58 children have been withdrawn from child marriages since the beginning of the pandemic.
All staff from our local Christian partners are working from home. They are in regular contact with sponsorship families through phone and child-friendly social media to identify areas of need. The most urgent challenges faced by sponsorship children and their families are food scarcity, lack of access to clean water, increased child marriage rates, job loss and increased school dropout rates.
Our partners adjusted their programming to address the most pressing needs of project communities. More than 200 sponsorship families have been given emergency food to combat hunger and food scarcity. Our partners have also developed a new livelihood support program to increase incomes, especially for those living in remote areas.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, hygiene information has been distributed to village leaders and families. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,000 people have also been supported with handwashing stations, including 70 families with children affected by disability.
In addition to these interventions, our partners have worked over the phone with children and their families to raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage.
To keep sponsored children in school during lockdown, partners used technology such as Google Classroom for remote learning or, for those without computers, lessons were broadcast over the radio. Some schools have reopened in line with local health guidelines.
Our local Christian partner, SAO Philippines, has adjusted their programming to address pressing challenges caused by COVID-19. Of all our partner countries, the Philippines has been hit hardest, with strict lockdowns meaning partner staff continue working entirely by distance.
To support our sponsorship communities from afar, partner staff are using technology as much as possible. This includes an online social media campaign with sponsorship families to train mentors. Mentors run fun and creative activities using poetry, dancing and plays to raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention, and to alleviate isolation during the long lockdown.
Some project areas also use online learning resources to run remote schooling programs, so many sponsored children have been able to continue their education.
Partner staff have identified that job losses caused by a protracted lockdown have led to a mental health crisis in the Philippines. In response, SAO are implementing a helpline to provide children and youth in the project with emotional and psychological support.
To address immediate needs, SAO staff are also providing urgently needed food items like rice, with 630 sponsorship families receiving food assistance so far. They hope to reach a further 780 vulnerable families across our project areas.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our Christian partner, Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service (LEADS), has begun an emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis (to donate to this, visit our COVID-19 Appeal page). They were fast to identify the key challenges our sponsorship communities in Sri Lanka would face due to the pandemic and have been working hard to mitigate them They are particularly concerned that many parents are still unable to find work.
To support the most vulnerable sponsored children and families at the beginning of the pandemic, LEADS distributed life saving food packages and counselling support. They have also provided education resources to 1,250 children so they can continue school through online learning.
To help protect sponsored children and their families from COVID-19, LEADS also set up handwashing stations, and continue to raise awareness about the risks of the virus. So far, 200 families have received hygiene and protection supplies, including soap, hand sanitiser, clean water and masks.
With Cases in Sri Lanka now declining, LEADS staff are beginning to plan how to further address the ongoing, negative impacts of COVID-19. There are still restrictions on gatherings, and many community members are concerned about meeting in groups. Staff are looking into how they can incorporate technology to facilitate project activities by distance.
Our local Christian partners in Uganda have been working alongside sponsored children and their families to identify specific challenges they are facing during the pandemic. They have found that the most pressing challenges are insufficient income, depletion of savings, lack of food and disruption to education.
Our partners have improved health and hygiene practices across the projects by raising awareness about hand washing techniques, ensuring families have access to water, and by providing more than 3,500 households with soap to protect against COVID-19.
As some restrictions have been eased, some small-group activities in the projects have resumed with the leadership of our project staff, including Child Clubs and saving groups. Activities like soap-making groups have been able to lift the incomes of some sponsorship families.
Sponsored children are continuing schooling from home. Our project staff have partnered with a local radio station to make lessons available over the radio, as well as providing printed school materials to households. Sponsored children have been taking part in child-led radio talk shows to raise awareness on child rights issues and COVID-19 safe practices.
Last Updated: 26th March 2021
Baptist World Aid is working closely with our local partners to monitor the situation on the ground, and to develop contingency plans if a community member or sponsored child is affected by the virus. Our key concerns are to respond to immediate needs, and to reduce further risk to community members and partner staff.
The wellbeing of the child partners in our sponsorship program is our highest priority. If they fall ill with Covid, we will be providing immediate support to them and their family where possible.
Child safeguarding is important to Baptist World Aid. Through your regular sponsorship you have already enabled life-saving hygiene training, with child clubs teaching the importance of practices such as handwashing. Our partners also have experience implementing child protection activities. These activities are now being implemented using mobile technology, building on the skills and strong community relationships that have been developed through our projects.
Yes! We are now able to send physical letters to and from children again, following a temporary pause on the international postage of mail. Please send your physical letters to:
Baptist World Aid Australia
Locked Bag 2200
North Ryde, NSW, 1670
If you’d prefer digital, you can still choose to send a Message of Hope to your sponsored child electronically by logging into your MyAccount online.
Our capacity for contact in the field is still more limited than usual, with restrictions varying in each country. Please expect delays in receiving regular letters and progress reports from your sponsored child, and in your letters being delivered to your sponsored child.
Baptist World Aid is responding by supporting partners to shift their activities towards a more humanitarian response. Our priority is making sure that partner staff and community members from our projects are safe.
Our partner organisations are working hard to support children, families and communities to respond to the risk of Covid, including through the distribution of health, hygiene and safety information. To reduce further risk of outbreaks, we have suspended large group gatherings and activities such as child clubs, savings groups, and graduation ceremonies. Through our COVID 19 Global Emergency Appeal, we are helping organisations to support health workers, conduct food and non-food distribution to vulnerable people, and provide protective equipment. We are working closely with our partners to monitor the situation, adapt activities, and make preparations for the recovery period, when enforced isolation ends and social and economic activities can resume.
Covid and social distancing measures carry a range of impacts for children, youth and their communities. The closure of schools has the potential to increase dropout rates, especially for girls, and to further entrench gender gaps in education. At the same time, school closures may increase the likelihood of child abuse, trafficking, and child labour.
The economic impacts of parents or caregivers being out of work, is expected to be widespread and devastating.
As Covid cases increase, the burden on health systems in resource-poor settings will be immense. Clinics and hospitals will be overcrowded and overwhelmed. Other basic services such as immunisation programs, primary health care, and community-based maternal and child health activities will be disrupted. Even before Covid, many children in sponsorship countries lacked access to clean water and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease. If caregivers get sick or die from the coronavirus, children will be at an increased risk of malnutrition, various diseases, and child protection violations.
Beyond physical health, social distancing also has impacts upon mental health and wellbeing. The pandemic is placing increased stress on families, community groups and governments. This may mean an inability to carry out daily tasks (such as caring for children), increased abusive behaviour, anxiety or grief at the loss of a loved one.
All emergency responses, including how sponsorship communities are being equipped, are enabled through the COVID-19 Global Emergency Appeal. To help protect more sponsored children and their communities and stop the rapid spread of the virus, why not give your most important gift ever?
Your prayer support during this uncertain time is more important than ever before. Please pray with us for all the children involved in our projects, as their education, health and wellbeing are impacted by Covid:
Your $100 gift provides 4 hygiene kits to protect families at risk of covid.
Your $200 gift provides 6 PPE kits for health workers in high risk, overcrowded conditions
Your $1,000 gift funds an emergency field worker in refugee camps for a month.
Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. All donations are in Australian Dollars.