Mon 07, Sep 2020
We are posting updates and messages from our Partners as we receive them so please check this page regularly. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we face this challenging environment together in the wake of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 spreads to all parts of our world, ABM joins our partners in prayer.
Click here to download the September edition of Partners Praying Together
7 September, 2020
PAPUA NEW GUINEA COVID-19 UPDATE
Impact of COVID-19 Awareness-Raising in West New Britain Province (Anglican Diocese of New Guinea Islands) 7 September, 2020
As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Papua New Guinea, Anglicare PNG and the Anglican Diocese of New Guinea Islands have been implementing vital COVID-19 community education to children, parents and community members through local primary schools. Below, Mr Bonnie Mombo, the Church Partnership Program (CPP) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer, writes about his monitoring visit to one of the participating schools, showing the importance of community education about the virus. The following story comes from an interview conducted by Mr Mombo with local head teacher, Mr Elizah Daka.
Mr Daka said that he originally thought that the COVID-19 virus wouldn’t affect Christian countries such as PNG, and the virus could easily be contained by global health authorities.
Once there was a confirmed case in PNG, Mr Daka’s opinion changed and he became fearful. This anxiety increased when the PNG Government ordered a State of Emergency, with curfews and extensive travel restrictions. All schools were instructed by the Provincial Education Authority to close, with everyone to stay at home.
There was initially a lot of confusion about what COVID-19 was, why it had occurred and how people should behave in the community or at home. There was a lack of information about why and how to prevent the COVID-19 spread. As the situation changed quickly, neither the Provincial Department of Education or the Provincial Health Department had any COVID-19 awareness or education information in verbal or written form. There was no information provided from non-government agencies, or other organisations.
Mr Daka said the COVD-19 awareness and education information from the Anglicare CPP* team was the first to reach his community. Mr Daka said the local primary school students and teachers, and the local community, were very pleased and felt so blessed to have the CPP team visit and provide COVID-19, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and gender awareness information, as the virus was and will be a national issue that triggers fear and confusion amoung the people. The whole community learnt many new things from the awareness and education session.
The integrated activities also helped them to take into consideration the rights of women and girls, children’s rights and to promote these rights within their school and community. The integration of the WASH awareness and hand-washing demonstration was very important to them and the school and community have continued to use these hyigene activitites to improve their health. In paricular the nine steps of hand washing was most useful as this was new information and everyone practised this to ensure they could master it. Educational materials were posted on the school notice board, and items of personal protection equipment, including face masks, were also distributed.
Mr Daka said the students, teachers and parents now feel more confident in understanding how COVID-19 is spread, and the importance of practicing health and hygiene at home, in school and within the community. Parents and students now feel more confident in returning to school after the State of Emergency ceases. Before the Anglicare CPP awareness team arrived, the community were scared of sending their children back to school. Initially, less than half of the students had returned.
Now the school has the full number of students again. Mr Daka commended the New Guinea Islands CPP COVID-19 awareness team, the Anglican Church, Anglican Board of Mission and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFaT) for funding the awareness activity.
A special thank you from all the teachers, students and community to the CPP Coordination office in Moresby who sent staff to the remote parts of the province, places often not reached by provincial government and provincial health.
Written by Bonnie Mombo, PNG Church Partnership Program Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.
* CPP is the Church Partnership Program funded by the Australian Government #PNGCPP; #PNGAusPartnership
Anglicare PNG is the social welfare and development arm of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. This project is also installing hand washing stations and safe water storage in schools and communities as part of the COVID-19 response. ABM also wishes to thank its generous supporters who contributed to its 2020 Tax Appeal for making possible some of Anglicare PNG’s vital COVID-19 response.
10 August, 2020
PAPUA NEW GUINEA COVID-19 UPDATE
Papua New Guinea has had a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases primarily within the Port Moresby area. After a two month period of less than 10 cases, there are now 214 positive cases in PNG, with three confirmed deaths. Many of these cases are linked to outbreaks in Port Moresby General hospital, and the Port Moresby Central Public Health Laboratory. There is now a two week lock down including schools, businesses and public transport in Port Moresby, and those who leave the home must always wear masks. A night time curfew has also been put in place.
Testing is available and the test result waiting times have been reduced from five days down to three.
Some provinces hasn’t sent their data, including surveillance information. The number of tests undertaken hasn’t been submitted to the National Department of Health, so there may be more undetected cases. There is also stigma towards those who have tested positive which may cause people to avoid contacting services.
The Goroka testing facility now has increased capacity. St John's Ambulance has established a drive-through testing facility at Taurama Aquatic Centre. Australia was assisting with processing tests, but this assistance has been reduced since the Victorian outbreak.
There are indeed tensions as health workers have not been paid for three months, and workers in the Port Moresby COVID-19 isolation centre are currently on strike as they haven’t been paid.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided help and assistance through the Church Partnership Program and Churches in PNG have assisted in providing COVID-19 prevention information to over 15,000 people, including those in Port Moresby. DFAT and the Churches have been working together to reach as many people as possible with prevention messaging. There are concerns that the Port Moresby infections may quickly spread to other areas. Activities are focused on Port Moresby and rural areas specifically for COVID-19 education awareness programs in churches and schools and the establishment of handwashing stations, among other things.
With funds provided by DFAT through the Church Partnership Program, and from ABM’s generous supporters, ABM is supporting the work of Anglicare and Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea to stop the spread of COVID-19.
25 June, 2020
PHILIPPINES COVID-19 UPDATE
Food Relief For People In The Philippines Unable To Access Markets
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, ABM was recently able to provide relief food packs to members of 13 People’s Cooperative Associations in the Visayas region of the Philippines, through its partner, IFI-VIMROD.
People in the Philippines have been among the worst affected by COVID-19 in the Western Pacific region, experiencing the second highest number of deaths in the region (after China) and the third highest number of infections (WHO figures, 17 June, 2020). To prevent the spread of the pandemic, the government has imposed stringent restrictions on people’s movements, but this has inadvertently led to many people being cut off from the markets where they normally buy food.
Getting the food parcels to the people has been a truly joint effort, involving funding from ABM and Australian Aid through the #ANCP program, and tireless work by the IFI-VIMROD staff and local government units in the region.
VIMROD have expressed their sincere thanks for ABM’s contribution. Your generous donation to ABM’s Tax Appeal can help us provide more food packs to those in need at this time.
24 June, 2020
VANUATU COVID-19 UPDATE
Why ABM’s Vanuatu partner was so well prepared for COVID-19
ABM and its partners place high value on a strengths-based approach to development and humanitarian work. This is where people tap into their existing skills and assets to solve identified problems. The approach has come into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic as the Anglican Church of Melanesia in Vanuatu (ACOM-V) uses its volunteers -- already trained and experienced in implementing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects -- to raise awareness of COVID-19.
Eight such volunteers have been educated about coronavirus by a qualified ni-Vanuatu doctor. These volunteers have gone out to conduct awareness-raising and distribute government-approved COVID-19 brochures to 50 Anglican parishes in three provinces (TORBA, SANMA and PENAMA), a total of about 5,000 people.
In some of these parishes, the teams also visited households of people living with a disability, to ensure COVID-19 messaging was reaching this vulnerable group.
In some parishes, the teams also conducted their usual hygiene messaging as part of the regular WASH program.
Community groups previously established through ACOM’s water supply and adult literacy programs have also played a role. They have been making use of phone and text communication to get clarifications from ACOM about the latest COVID updates and directives, and to provide updates to ACOM about COVID-19 prevention measures at community level.
Impacts in the communities have not yet been formally measured but are expected to include COVID-safe behaviours such as physical distancing and more frequent handwashing with soap.
As part of the normal WASH program two more water tanks have been installed on Gaua Island since March. Now those two newly constructed tanks are expected to provide easier access to clean water, thereby improving hygiene and reducing vulnerability to COVID-19.
23 June, 2020
AUSTRALIA COVID-19 UPDATE
Rev Gloria Shipp: Walkabout Ministries Project Update
ABM has received a new report from Rev Gloria Shipp regarding her Walkabout Ministries during this time of COVID-19. Although affected by social distancing regulations for some months, we give thanks to God that Gloria’s ministry activities are largely back on track. Sadly, Gloria has had to step down from her prison chaplaincy at Dubbo’s Orana Youth Justice Centre. She asks for prayers for a new chaplain to be found. (Gloria fits into a high-risk category for COVID-19, so she wasn’t allowed to continue jail visits).
Despite the challenges, Gloria has continued to find ways to support her Elders Outreach Group members, and she looks forward to this year’s Women’s Camp going ahead.
“The Elders Outreach Group were meeting every Tuesday in the hall at Dubbo Anglican Church until early March when the Corona Virus halted activities. For the next couple of months, the Elders were supported by phone calls and the occasional quick visit by me at the front of their houses once these were allowed by law. Towards the end of May we started meeting in small groups of 5 in my home for fellowship and craft. We hope to return to the hall in July after the school holidays and then community activities when allowed.
“Weekly Bible talks continued to be held at the (Orana) Centre until mid-March when I was not allowed into the centre due to coronavirus restrictions. This made supporting the boys exceedingly difficult as I was not able to speak with them on the phone. At the end of April, after much prayer and consideration, I resigned from the Centre.
“Planning for the Women’s Camp to be held at Burrendong Dam Holiday Park in August is continuing. I have two cabins booked and a few ladies have already indicated they will be at the camp.
“Our booklet is ready to be printed for a Women of the Bible afternoon. This year we will be looking at Jehosheba and Deborah. This will most likely be held later in the year when the warmer weather returns, and restrictions are lifted more.
“I am planning on a luncheon/garden party in my back yard on Melbourne Cup Day with select members of the community invited. Once again this will all be dependent on any restrictions in place at that time.
“Outreach trips and the Reconciliation luncheon are still being considered, however we cannot plan too much with these due to current restrictions.
“NATSIAC is continuing with an Executive meeting being held over ZOOM in April, to discuss urgent matters.
“Jen [Gloria’s Admin Assistant] and I worked from our own home offices for a few weeks, keeping in touch through email and phone for ministry matters. We commenced working together in the same place in May.
“I continue to be thankful for all the support given to this ministry from ABM which enables these programs to continue.
Rev Gloria Shipp”
15 June, 2020
ZAMBIA COVID-19 UPDATE
With schools remaining closed, and a sharp reduction in family incomes caused by COVID-19, more young girls are engaging in risky behaviours such prostitution and early marriages. Young boys at a loose end with no school to go to, have started engaging in drug abuse.
ABM’s Zambian partner, ZACOP, is working hard both to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to address these re-emerging social problems.
Gender Action Group (GAG) members from ABM’s Integrated Gender Project in Eastern Province, have been retrained, and are sharing information door-to-door about the disease. Their training and experience in conducting household awareness about gender-based violence and women’s empowerment makes them well-placed to do this new work. Men are also being taught how they and their families can help prevent COVID-19 spread, through the project’s Men Engage Networks (MENs).
These community volunteers are also working to address the fear and stress people experience as most community-based activities are curtailed. It is fear that also leads people to avoid going to the clinic when they develop any respiratory symptoms, hence risking the health of their entire family.
"The outbreak of COVID -19 is very stressful for us people in the villages. We are overwhelmed with fear and anxiety that the disease will kill us. We have heard that elderly people are more at risk of the disease, thus causing strong emotions in both adults and children in such a way that most people in villages have a feeling that COVID-19 will kill everyone,’’said one of the villagers from Mzenje.
Economically, the lock-downs have led to price rises in basic commodities. These affect the income bases of most villagers, causing many to return to greater levels of poverty.
As we too experience in Australia, many are distressed because they cannot go to church. In rural areas of Zambia, technologies like Zoom are an undreamed-of luxury. And even though the Zambian President announced that the churches can now re-open, many are unable to as they cannot meet the strict health requirements.
We continue to pray for Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Program as it works with few resources to inform and reassure their local communities at this difficult time.
26 May, 2020
ZAMBIA COVID-19 UPDATE
St John’s Theological Seminary, Zambia
Social distancing is challenging people’s very concept of community in Zambia, as reported by the Rev’d Canon Francis Mwansa, Principal of St John’s Theological Seminary, one of ABM’s longstanding partners. He writes:
“Covid 19 which is now spreading quickly everywhere in Zambia has changed the way we live, work and pray, and the way we associate with each other. Seminary life is not an exception. Students and staff are now required to wear masks both in chapel and classroom and observe a social distance of at least one metre. Africans live and do things as a community and distancing yourself to your friend does not make community. We all are to adapt to this new life of COVID-19 though from time to time you forget and you want to do things in your past normal ways. All our Churches are closed for public worship but we have kept the chapel worship open for students and staff. We pray that God will give us a cure soon.
Stay home and be Safe,
4 May, 2020
PAPUA NEW GUINEA COVID-19 UPDATE
Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea/Anglicare PNG Inc
In response to the Government of Papua New Guinea preparedness measures and response plan on COVID-19 pandemic, the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea has gone ahead to make available information on COVID-19 to Anglican communities both in the urban and rural areas. The Anglican Health Service officers, Anglicare PNG Inc, Diocesan Secretaries, Diocese Project officers, Clergy and Volunteers (youths) have conducted awareness on precautionary measures on COVID-19 in their respective communities.
The scope of the awareness on COVID-19 is to:
Apart from awareness-raising on COVID-19, the Church is also looking into a WASH project, hand washing sinks to be installed in all Anglican Health Centres, schools and parishes, and addressing gender specific challenges due to the State of Emergency being extended for two months.
Story by Annsli Kabekabe.
Pictures by Lorraine Kutuapi and Rachel Jifuri, Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea.
This work has been made possible by a $17,000 grant from Australian Aid, through the Papua New Guinea Church Partnership Program. #CPP