22 Jun 2020
EMpower’s response to Covid-19 and the realities in the communities in which their partners work
Social distancing is challenging, if not impossible, in overcrowded communities. Schools are closed in all 15 countries they work in; for many young people, their school provides the only guaranteed meal of the day. The lack of access to clean, running water and soap makes frequent hand washing difficult. Economic shocks cause food scarcity and lack of basic household necessities.
Girls and Young Women are particularly affected
- As family members get sick, caregiving and chores burden responsibilities dramatically increase. Sexual violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence and child sexual exploitation increase, as schools and youth programs are closed.
- With pressure to provide financially for their families, girls are unlikely to have any savings and the most vulnerable can be forced to survive through transactional sex or “survival sex”.
- Without access to sexual and reproductive health services, unwanted / unplanned pregnancies and STIs will rise.
Grantee Partners’ Responses to COVID-19: E/SE Asia
In Hong Kong: Teach Unlimited Foundation (TUF) has youth mentors helping students and teachers online. Unison has developed short videos on hygiene practices and other important government messages related to COVID-19 for ethnic minorities families (EM) and is distributing protective gear to over 550 ethnic minority families.
In Indonesia: East Bali Poverty Project has distributed learning materials to students and are keeping in touch via WhatsApp, so the youth can continue to learn from home. In addition, they’ve bought basic mobile phones & 3-month credit for 16 students to support the most disadvantaged students with e-learning.
In Vietnam: Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation delivered food staples & other essentials to families in need. They also launched an emergency appeal to get children off the streets and to provide critical support to families who have lost income as a result of COVID-19.
Grantee Partners’ Initial Responses to COVID-19: In India
Oscar Foundation is conducting informational sessions on COVID-19 with young people and community members in the Mumbai slums, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. They are also distributing hand sanitizer and information pamphlets.
Medha has switched its programs to virtual methods, continuing to offer talks with industry leaders and resume writing, mock interviews and career counseling sessions.
Akshara Centre, in association, with the government of Maharashtra, has produced a powerful video to raise awareness about domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The YP Foundation (TYPF) conducted a session on creating DIY cloth menstrual pads with basic items found in most homes. The live session was attended by more than 70 people and the video was reposted on by Times of India and Quint.
Chintan is supporting the most marginalized—waste pickers—by installing portable handwashing stations in the community and providing 5,000 families with COVID-19 kits containing food rations and soap.
Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT) is providing direct cash transfers to girls to support their families. FAT also started a campaign called Compassion, not Corona to spread accurate information, inspire action for coronavirus precautions, and to support those in need.
Grantee Partners’ Initial Responses to COVID-19: Latin America
In Brazil, Abraco Campeao is organizing a 3-week COVID-19 mitigation donation distribution, and awareness-raising campaign on hand-washing and the importance of social distancing
In Colombia, Tiempo de Juego is offering youth professional psychosocial support through Facebook chat, daily from 8am-5pm. They are also providing videos through social media on topics such as Myths and Truths about COVID-19, how to maintain your emotional health while at home, and how to access support services in the event of domestic violence.
In Argentina, Empujar is continuing their job training program online and is providing stipends for young people who cannot otherwise afford internet.
In Brazil, Onda Solidaria has moved quickly to adapt their Transformacao and Sports programs to online training, using a combination of Zoom, WhatsApp and Google Classroom. Separate WhatsApp groups have been established, arranged by age (10 to 13, 14-15, 16 and older) for group discussion, and teachers are available via WhatsApp.
In Mexico, Sikanda provided 130 of the most vulnerable families they work with survival packs with food and other essentials (soap, toilet paper). They also have WhatsApp groups to make sure people in the communities are as up-to-date as possible with announcements from public authorities.
In South Africa, BRAVE is distributing support packs for young people and their families, containing food, soap, toothpaste and essential supplies. They’re also helping young women whose homes are not safe , as a result of them suffering from abuse.
In Ghana, NORSAAC is disseminating information about COVID-19 in a creative way— by playing recorded health messages from the megaphone of the closed mosques.
In South Africa, Waves For Change (W4C) is delivering remote mental health services to youth from townships to support physical distancing without emotional distancing. So far, over 100 one-on-one sessions between W4C youth mentors and psychologists have taken place and they’ve delivered 1530 food parcels to families in need.
Global crises deepen inequality.
EMpower are committed to supporting their grantee partners through and beyond this pandemic; focusing on and supporting marginalized young people. They will honor the financial commitments to grantees to ensure stability, increase the percentage of grant funds so that they can be used for unrestricted support (e.g.-administrative, operational costs) from 20% to 50%.
Grantees express appreciation for EMpower’s flexible funding
KELY Support Group, Hong Kong: “We are grateful for the flexibility that EMpower has provided in empowering us to look at a different way to tackle the program. By allowing us to shift the program, this has strengthened our ability to move towards digital options…for youth work in HK.”
Lend a Hand India, Maharashtra: “We thank EMpower for offering the flexibility to re-allocate the remaining grant. It will certainly be helpful to overcome the crisis on hand.”
Tiempo de Juego, Colombia: “Once again, we thank EMpower for the trust and support you’ve given us to continue programming in the communities where we work. We greatly appreciate the solidarity you have shown in the midst of this challenging time.”
Waves of Change, South Africa: “Thank you so much for your support - it is so brilliant to be working with such a thoughtful and action orientated partner.”
EMpower has allocated $50,000 for emergency grants to support their partners that need it most.