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.
Like Australia, countries where we have sponsorship programs are in lockdown. Although our partner staff in most countries are abiding by government isolation advice, they are busy maintaining contact with sponsorship communities and providing support where they can.
Here are some country updates and ways in which our partners are taking action right now:
Due to Covid, our project communities have faced increased risk of school dropout rates, economic hardship, food shortages and compounding health challenges. Since the beginning of this 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, thanks to our frontline Christian partners distributing health information and training project 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.
Protecting the most vulnerable sponsored children and their families has been a key priority for our partners. The extreme poor 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 vulnerable community members. In addition to these initiatives, our Christian partners have also increased access to clean water for drinking and washing hands to further protect sponsored children from the worst of the pandemic.
Our frontline Christian partners in Cambodia have worked tirelessly to reduce the risk of Covid for sponsored children and their families. Covid has meant that project communities in Cambodia have faced increased risks of permanent school dropout, domestic violence, and mental health challenges.
Our partners were using online and phone communication to stay in touch with communities throughout lockdown, providing important practical and emotional support throughout the pandemic.
Through phone mentoring, partners were able to provide Covid awareness training to village leaders, who were then able to share their knowledge with others. Partners also used phone communication to mentor sponsored children on how to protect themselves from abuse. Across our Cambodian projects, many families were supported to access further emotional support through counselling services.
Online education systems enabled sponsored children to continue learning and prevented many children from dropping out of school permanently.
Staff from our frontline Christian partner, Church and Society Program Malawi (CSP Malawi), are continuing to support sponsorship programming through phone calls and community-based leaders. Project staff have been adapting their programming to reduce the risk of spreading Covid, prevent school dropout and reduce child marriage rates.
CSP Malawi are focusing on prevention activities and strengthening community health facilities. They are continuing to provide personal protective equipment and are distributing health information to raise awareness about how to prevent the spread of Covid among 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 the sponsorship program.
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 keeping activities running by distance during lockdown, 74 children have been withdrawn from child marriages since the beginning of the pandemic.
All staff from our frontline Christian partners are working from home. They are maintaining regular contact with sponsorship families via phone and child-friendly social media to continue identifying needs and providing support with available resources. The most urgent challenges faced by sponsorship children and their families are food scarcity, lack of access to clean water, increased child marriage rates and increased school dropout rates.
Our Christian partners have adjusted their programming to focus on prevention activities in all areas of identified need. More than 200 sponsorship families have been given emergency food to combat hunger and food scarcity. Our partners have also made a major shift and developed a new livelihood support program designed to increase incomes.
To prevent the spread of Covid in sponsorship communities, hygiene information to village leaders and families has been consistently distributed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 180 households have been supported with handwashing stations, as well as an additional 70 families with children affected by a 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 in the hopes of prevention.
As far as education, our partners used other technologies such as Google Classroom for remote learning or, for those without computers, they organised for lessons to be broadcast over the radio. This has meant that many sponsored children have been able to continue learning despite the challenging isolation!
Our frontline Christian partner, SAO Philippines, also adjusted their programming to address the most pressing issues that Covid set in motion. Of all our partner countries, the Philippines has arguably been hit the hardest, with strict regulations that mean that our partner is still working solely by distance.
To support our sponsorship communities from afar, they have been using technology as much as possible. This has included an online social media campaign with sponsorship families to train mentors, who then went on to implement fun and creative activities to raise awareness about Covid prevention, as well as to lift each other’s spirits during lockdown. They raised awareness through poetry, dancing, and plays!
Some project areas have also been able to use online learning resources, so many children are able to continue education.
Since the beginning of the pandemic SAO has also been providing urgently needed food items like rice, with 630 sponsorship families receiving food assistance so far. They hope to reach 780 vulnerable families across our project areas with support by the end of this year.
After Typhoon Goni, project staff have been warned that more typhoons are to be expected in the coming months, potentially compounding existing vulnerabilities caused by Covid. They are preparing their church networks to be ready to care for affected families if a typhoon does hit the project area.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our Christian partner Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service (LEADS), has begun an emergency response to the Covid 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 address these ever since.
To help protect sponsored children and their families from Covid, they have set up handwashing stations in communities and are raising awareness about the continued risks of Covid. So far, 200 families have received hygiene and protection supplies, including soap, hand sanitiser, clean water and masks.
To support the most vulnerable children and families, LEADS have also distributed life saving food packages, counselling support, and education resources so sponsored children can continue school through online learning.
Our frontline Christian partners in Uganda have been working alongside sponsored children and their families to help identify the 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.
Children are continuing schooling from home, and our partners are assisting in this process by making sure lessons are available over the radio, and via printed materials.
As some restrictions have been eased, some small-group activities have resumed with the leadership of our Christian partners, including saving groups. Activities like soap-making groups have also been able to lift the incomes of some sponsorship families.
Our partners have also raised the standard of health and hygiene by raising awareness about hand washing techniques, ensuring families have access to water for handwashing and have provided more than 2,000 households soap to protect against Covid.
“To our sponsors in Australia, we are very thankful for your support and prayer. Together we will beat this pandemic. Thank you for everything.”
– Jun, a sponsored child from the Philippines
At the rapid rate of change that is occurring with Covid around the world, we will ensure this page is updated as regularly as possible with the latest news from the field.
Last Updated: 17th December 2020
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.