Countries around the world are affected by coronavirus and during this time our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our beneficiaries and our staff.
Update 20th September 2020: The State of Emergency was lifted at the end of August but most protective restrictions remain in place. The Ministry of Education has given the go ahead for schools to enrol students by the 24th of September but has not yet indicated when school can resume. For students who were in Grade 8 and Grade 12 in the last academic year, and who will have to sit national exams, there will be 45 days of catch-up lessons before sitting their exams.
Update 25th August 2020: Our sponsored families are now dealing with the double hit of coronavirus restrictions and rainy season. This means that the work that most of our families do – labouring, construction and running small businesses – is not viable right now. In addition to this food prices have been rising since the beginning of the outbreak. Government support is not available to our sponsored families as they are connected to a charity. Many of our families are struggling to keep their heads above water at this time. We are launching a Survival Food Parcel appeal to provide food supplies to all our families. You can donate to the appeal here: http://virginmoneygiving.com/fund/survivalfoodparcels
Update 15th June 2020: We have invited sponsored university students to our office in Gondar, which is open 2 days a week, so that they may use a laptop to go online, access, and print their course materials. Since April universities have been closed and much learning has moved online, this puts many of the young adults we support at a disadvantage as they don’t have the capacity to get online or conveniently access online learning. By giving them access at our offices we can help ensure that students don’t fall behind because of a lack of resources.
Update 29th May 2020: The first cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Gondar, at this time there are known to be 8 confirmed cases which has led to over 100 people self-isolating. A new wave of community awareness of rules regarding distancing and mask-wearing is taking place.
Update 18th May 2020: Following several weeks of lockdown restrictions and with no cases confirmed in Gondar, communities are beginning to interact more like usual. Transport costs triple as social distancing is applied to buses and bajaj. Our staff return to working in the office 2 days a week and some construction projects are able to progress, we continue to avoid face to face meetings with sponsored families. In Addis Ababa, cases continue so our staff remain at home in Bishoftu, working as they are able using mobile data.
The Situation in Ethiopia
Case numbers in Ethiopia are low at the time of writing (29 confirmed cases as of 1st April), but it is acknowledged that there is little testing and the actual number is likely to be higher. Cases started in Addis but have now also been confirmed in Oromia and Amhara, where our activities are based.
The Ethiopian government has already closed all schools and universities, closed bars and nightclubs, land borders are now also closed and social distancing is in place in market areas and religious spaces.
In a developing country like Ethiopia, where the health infrastructure is not as strong as it is in countries like the UK, the impact of coronavirus could be devastating and measures must be taken early on to halt the spread of the disease.
Actions We’re Taking
We have taken the following actions in Ethiopia to help ensure the wellbeing of the children, schools and staff involved in our projects:
- All sponsored children have received extra funds this month to enable them to buy food supplies, soap and other sanitation items;
- We continue to support sponsored families with funds and support over the phone, but are avoiding face to face contact to reduce the chance of our staff unknowingly spreading the virus. This unfortunately means that all sponsorship updates are on hold at this time;
- With the closure of schools our teacher training and construction programmes are on hold, as are our football team activities.
Our staff in Ethiopia are available to our beneficiaries and are ready to respond to their needs and to calls from the government for cross-community initiatives, but they are working from home and avoiding travel unless necessary. Our UK office is also closed at this time.
We will continue to revise these measures in line with Ethiopian and UK government guidance and to ensure the safety of our sponsored families and staff.
Your Continued Support
This is a global pandemic and we know that many of our supporters may also be affected by the virus and measures taken to limit its spread in the UK and across the world.
The children and families that Link Ethiopia supports are already some of the most vulnerable in society. If the coronavirus pandemic affects Ethiopia as it has done the UK and other parts of the world, they are most at risk. Your help is needed now more than ever and we thank you for your continued support at this time.