Every day, Paula Vásquez tries to create for herself and her family a “new normal” during COVID-19. She wakes up at 5:30 AM, prepares breakfast, eats alone, and leaves two meals for her sons, sixteen-year-old Jesús and ten-year-old José Luis. Then, she walks through the narrow, dusty streets of the Monte Albán Colony, one of the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Oaxaca, Mexico, to get to work. It takes her half an hour on foot to get to Crecemos, the educational center where she works as a cook. There, she washes her hands, puts on a mask, and starts her new routine. In the next eight hours, she will prepare 300 meals to be distributed to the 150 families served by Crecemos.
When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Uganda, forcing the Government to close business and schools, some beneficiaries of AVSI’s Graduating to Resilience Activity thought that the project funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID was going to be canceled. AVSI’s Community Based Trainer Jackson Ninkusima brought them hope.
William Lenga, 52 years old, has been working as a boda-boda rider for the last two years. Boda-bodas are bicycle and motorcycle taxis commonly found in East Africa. William’s task is even more specific and vital: he urgently transports an ailing pregnant woman, a mother of a newborn, or an infant under five years old to the nearest health facility for medical attention. When the first positive case of COVID-19 was announced in Uganda, William started worrying: how could he keep helping mothers in his community and care for his eight children’s safety?
Equipped with a mask, protective clothing, and a great desire to help, Ernesto Luque hugs his loved ones early in the morning and heads to work. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador, Ernesto has been delivering food rations and basic kits of protection and personal hygiene to Venezuelan refugee families. Streets are quiet and almost empty, but anxiety and uncertainty fill the air and leave a strong impression on anyone passing through the towns.
On March 20, Mexico closed schools nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A few days earlier, on March 17, Crecemos had already sent home the children who come regurarly to the educational center located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Oaxaca, Mexico. In their bags, Crecemos staff helped them pack homework, instructions on how to wash hands and keep social distance and their musical instrument.
Anny, a Venezuelan refugee, got moved to Santa Catarina, Brazil thanks to AVSI’s “Welcomed Through Work” initiative, funded by the Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees. Though she’s new to the area, she was invited to participate in two campaigns designed to raise awareness about COVID-19 among refugees in Brazil.
On March 18th, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez imposed a mandatory nationwide quarantine in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, the economy has been hit hard and the people, many of whom struggle withpoverty and hunger, are concerned about how long the quarantine can last before they start to suffer from lost income, job losses and rising debt levels. In Argentina, 49.3% of the economically active population work in the informal sector, making a quarantine especially challenging to livelihoods.