I've been struggling to write this blog post. I want to share my thoughts and experiences about the COVID19 pandemic and how it has and will affect the world's poorest communities. I don't want to be alarmist, but I've realized that there's no time like now to talk about the true realities we're facing. Every day we're being bombarded with news about the pandemic. Our neighbors and friends are being affected, lives are being lost, the uncertainty of our economies and communities can leave us in paralyzed fear. But if we let fear take over, that is when the worst truly begins. All of us are experiencing real and difficult struggles right now, but we cannot lose sight of the struggles of those on the margins. We must take care of our neighbors and immediate communities, but we cannot forget the poorest of the poor throughout the world.
Not much is being said about the developing world and the pandemic. In fact, we struggled to even find stories to link to this blog. Many communities are not yet reporting the arrival of the virus - that could be true, or it could also be for the lack of testing. Nonetheless, in our interconnected and globalized world, I doubt there will be a community in this world that will not eventually get it. I have seen many part of the world where poverty is rampant, and basic infrastructures are dismal. Once these communities become infected by the coronavirus, the consequences will be catastrophic. We cannot fool ourselves that if we flatten the curve in our communities that it will prevent its spread worldwide. Yes, we must flatten our own curves, but we must also prepare for how we will support the developing world. And that work needs to happen right now, amidst our own struggles.
In communities where there are no hospitals, no running water, not enough space to safely distance yourself from others - how will they fight the virus? Right now, Cultivate is working with our trainees to identify disaster relief plans and processes that can help their communities prepare for what is to come. There's not enough time to ship food and basic items, to fully stock health clinics with the necessary medical supplies, or help governments create their emergency aid plans. These communities need economic relief, just like our own nation does.
Yes, we must care for our families, our friends and neighbors, and those in our own midst who are at the highest risks. But we cannot forget the developing world. Here are some things you can do today.
1. GIVE. The best thing you can do right now to help the poorest of the poor is to give generously. If you are a supporter of a community development organization that works directly with a local community, give to their efforts. The closer the organization is to the recipients of the support, the better. Do your research to learn how this organization has used disaster relief funds in the past, don't be afraid to call them and ask tough questions. Donors must demand greater transparency and accountability from charitable organizations. If they cannot give you answer that is good enough for you, then find another organization. Some questions I suggest you ask:
- What international communities is your organization supporting?
- How will my donation be used?
- How will the delivery of the donation or relief be monitored?
- What processes and systems do you have in place to ensure that donations are used as they were intended?
- What overhead or administrative costs will you have for the delivery of this donation or relief?
- How are you working with the local community to determine their needs?
- How are you partnering with local leaders, other local organizations, or local stakeholders to ensure that your program is culturally appropriate and will achieve a mutually-beneficial program for your organization and the recipients?
Cultivate is working to find ways to quickly and safely get financial support to our trainees and their communities. Once this is in place, we will let you know how you can give. In the meantime, we encourage you to give to small organizations that have the most direct contact with the communities they serve. At this time, the best action you can take is to donate to those local communities.
2. LEARN. I encourage you to learn what you can. We have listed below some articles that will get you started and will add more as we come across them.
- "Migrants are the unsung heroes of the pandemic" https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/04/03/migrants-are-unsung-heroes-pandemic/
- ‘"I am so afraid’: Coronavirus isolation brings grave new hardships for the world’s poor" https://www.washingtonpost.com/photography/2020/03/27/coronavirus-inequality/
- "African elite who once sought treatment abroad are grounded" https://apnews.com/3fd908519a2a746f965150d8bf1f83ae
- "A new battle zone for the coronavirus looms: the developing world" https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/new-battle-zone-coronavirus-looms-developing-world/
- "Coronavirus could hit developing countries hardest" https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-developing-countries-africa-india-c0894ecd-13dd-4f20-b096-384fff8a1443.html
- "Developing World Braces for Coronavirus" https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-03-23/why-coronavirus-could-be-especially-catastrophic-for-developing-world
3. ADVOCATE. If you have the ability to, please advocate on the behalf of other nations. Advocate for economic relief, partnerships across organizations, and the enforcement of international laws and treaties that exist to protect the most vulnerable.
4. CONNECT. Keep these communities close to your heart and thoughts. These are our brothers and sisters, and when one person in our global family is suffering, we all suffer. If you know people in these communities, reach out to them. Offer your friendship and support. Knowing they are remembered could be the exact thing they may need from you today.
My hope is that out of the ashes, our world will come out stronger, more united, and with a new understanding of our deep interconnectedness. We can’t lose hope.
~ Elaine Tymchak