How Our Partners are Dealing with the Global Covid 19 Pandemic –
As the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic the global community is feeling as vulnerable as ever. Many of us are facing various challenges due to the pandemic’s far-reaching implications. At Development Together we think it is important to stay in touch with one another, spread positivity and check in on those you care about; especially during this time of social distancing.
Given our current inability to directly serve our not-for-profit partners in the developing world, we thought we’d get in touch with them to extend our thoughts and let them know we are thinking of them. Our partners were really happy to hear from us and most have provided an update on how they are dealing with the Global Pandemic.
The Cambodian community development organisation, Empowering Cambodia, spent the month of March conducting a series of training sessions in accordance with Cambodian social distancing and public gathering rules and regulations. Their Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training was adapted to introduce Covid-19 prevention training as a priority.
As the poor seem to be some of the most hard hit during this time with limited access to personal protective wear, Cambodians have been encouraged to wear the traditional Kroma scarf as a form of protection. To ensure the safety and health of local families Empowering Cambodia have also distributed soaps and pictorial brochures to assist in good hygiene practices.
Cambodian Wear Kroma as They are Taught Good Health Practices in Small Groups
(Source: Empowering Cambodia Facebook)
Stitches of Hope
On a positive note the Cambodian people within the Stitches of Hope Community seem to be in good spirits. The organisation that aims to bring hope and aid to the poor in Cambodia reports that for children being supported in group homes, their teachers, carers and students are continuing with school studies at a reasonable distance from one another, with some even having the opportunity to learn how to cook.
Learning how to make mango jam and preserves.
(Source: Stitches of Hope Facebook)
The Perth based Director of Stitches of Hope also informs us that she was able to deliver sleeping bags, made by local Cambodian women, for the homeless in Western Australia. Local women in Cambodia are employed to sew sleeping bags, they are then shipped to Australia where each sleeping bag is paid for by a donor and distributed to the homeless. Stitches of Hope are trusting that the generosity of those who are able will keep this program going during these uncertain times.
The Director of Stitches of Hope, Ms Kay Eva, delivering sleeping bags to the homeless in Perth, WA
(Source: Kay Eva Facebook)
Foxglove Project is an Australian charity working to eradicate poverty in the developing world by empowering women and girls to change their own lives. Kelly Chisholm, the founder, has been encouraging her social media audiences to “Support a Woman”. The proceeds raised from this campaign will help support women in India and Rwanda who already have established micro-financing businesses in place.
In Rwanda, fundraising from this appeal will help local woman to come through this period with their homes and micro businesses intact and to utilise their networks via the Self Help groups they are involved with to quickly disseminate health, hygiene and safe family practice training to local women. In India funds will go towards providing families in lock down in the slums with dry food and basic necessities.
Foxglove Project Covid 19 Fundraising Appeal
(Source: Foxglove Project Facebook)
Shanghai Gold Apple Bilingual School
Our partners in Shanghai, China at the Gold Apple Bilingual School have had a difficult time over the last few months. From early in January they established an Epidemic Prevention and Control Team to protect the students and teachers. Very quickly the Chinese government closed all schools and restricted travel and school pupils had their classes delivered online. For both students and teachers this has been a steep learning curve.
The school has provided students with learning materials and learning suggestions, is conducting mental health counselling, and is encouraging students to engage in appropriate sports and housework, whilst also completing their daily school work. As things begin to return to normal in Shanghai both staff and pupils are looking forward to getting back into their usual school routines once more.
Students Getting Back to Learning
Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay
India has entered a period of strict lock down. For the staff and residents at Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay this has meant staying at home at all times, cancelling all extra-curricular activities and a restriction on their teachers coming into the home to work with them. Many of their plans have been brought to a halt, some teachers are giving classes online while non-essential staff work from home where they can. Dr. Harrison and a few other essential staff are currently living with the residents of the organisation and overseeing daily duties and tasks.
School Lesson via WhatsApp for Girls Living with Cerebral Palsy
(Image Courtesy Shisur Sevay March 2020)
The model inclusive home for orphan girls, both abled and with disabilities, share their view on how they are coping during lock down:
“India is on total lock down until 15 April…I am amazed at how the girls have risen to the challenge of this pandemic. They continue to be independent, cheerful, competent, and funny as they take incredible care of themselves and each other.” – Dr. Michelle Harrison
Online Communication Session for Girls Living with Cerebral Palsy
(Image Courtesy Shisur Sevay March 2020)
Although they face their own challenges, the organisation has shown selfless love and care for others with their recent decision to donate half of their food budget to feed the poor.
“ Our girls’ origins are among the extremely underprivileged. We taught them that these were the foundations on which to gain strength and grow. Today they asked how we can help the poor and hungry during lock down. We all decided to cut our food budget while still staying healthy. The money saved goes to a program feeding the hungry.” – Dr. Michelle Harrison
Bali Appropriate Technology Institute
Despite the Corona virus disruptions in the country our partner organisation, Bali Appropriate Technology Institute in Indonesia are continuing their sustainable engineering projects via video chat with the Director Mr Rus Alit who is currently based in Perth Australia. Rus shares his thoughts on their current situation:
“The project to build a water tank in the village of Kendampal in Datah continues. A 20,000 litre water tank is in the making. Under BATI’s direction by video call, the water tank is well underway toward completion.” – Rus Alit
An update from BATI regarding the water filter’s that our Engineering interns helped to design and construct in January 2020 was provided and it was found that they are functioning well and much appreciated by the locals. With the ability to store and provide clean water, the village is able to utilise the water filter’s to sustain a basic standard of hygiene during this tough time. BATI staff look forward to when they’ll be able to visit the site to conduct further work in the area.
BATI Working on Underground Water Tank in Datah Village
(Image Courtesy Rus Alit March 2020)
Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries
On January 28th the Mother Care Academy, a brand new Junior school in Busia Uganda, was opened by our partners Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries, Uganda (SHIMU). The students were only just beginning to adjust to a normal schooling routine and enjoying being able to attend a school that was conducted indoors, with tables and some stationery supplies available to them. As the impact of Covid 19 heightens in Uganda these students have now all been asked to stay at home and their lessons have been discontinued. Very few families have access to the internet or even own a computer so the idea of online class delivery will not be happening. Most children will not be receiving any schooling during this stage and will be helping their parents in the fields to make ends meet.
Given the current circumstances SHIMU still continues to give a voice to the hopeless urging those to support the vulnerable during this difficult time.
“A lot is still needed at this new school ranging from cementing the floors of the classrooms, buying chairs and tables for teachers, buying ridges for the roofs, fencing the school to buying uniforms for children. We can’t give up on supporting these vulnerable.” – SHIMU
In addition to this the impact of the pandemic on SHIM is immense as 65% of the organisation’s income source from selling vegetables, bananas and pigs has been slashed due to market shutdowns in the area. This is especially devastating on the work they do, as their farm income was used to fund their new school, run Micro-Economic Development Activities, and conduct Sexual Health and Reproduction Education for local villagers.
As the virus reaches into rural Uganda prices for basic goods, sanitary items and building materials have risen rapidly. This poses a risk to the livelihoods of many living in the area as food and essential items become harder to obtain. In SHIM’s most recent Facebook post the organisation expresses their commitment to sustaining their children and staff’s basic needs for as long as possible.
“We’re committed to keeping the children fed, and safe. We are also at pains to keep supporting our incredible SHIM UGANDA workforce – nearly 10 teachers, 5 project managers and other support staff. With no safety net for them, we are fighting to secure their futures, as well as the welfare of our kids.” – SHIMU
Mother of Care Academy Students on the 4th day of Term 1
(Image Courtesy SHIMU January 31st 2020)
Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre
Our partners at the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv Ukraine are being especially vigilant about preventing the spread of Covid 19. Many of the children and adults who utilise this facility are at high risk of becoming critically ill if they catch this disease due to their physical disabilities.
Under the direction of the local government, the centre will remain closed until April 24th, so staff have been providing tips and advice via their social media channels to local families looking after their children at home. Tips include advice on Covid 19 symptoms, along with advice on regular hand washing, disinfecting surfaces and spending time outside to get fresh air.
Covid 19 Symptoms Poster
(Source: Dzherelo Facebook)
Staff from Dzherelo have also been encouraging families of clients to seek out alternate ways to communicate with their loved ones whilst under lock down at home. Families have been encouraged to help their child at home by accessing specific therapy websites, online stories, reading together, looking at photos together and reinforcing positive behaviors. In this way, families are now able to assist in the delivery of therapy sessions which are being conducted on-line if the family has a computer and internet access at home.
Alternate Communication Tools
Centre for Sustainable Development Studies
The Vietnamese government has enforced very strict restrictions to control the spread of Covid 19 which have led to the suspension of all of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies activities. The staff at CSDS are working hard in the office and at home to take the time to prepare for further activities when the work is back to normal. One area they are working on is through their social media posts aimed at encouraging local people to hand wash.
CSDS Hand Washing Poster
(Source: CSDS VN Facebook)
They have also been conducting a survey on the impact and needs of children and teens affected by Covid 19 with the survey results being used to inform the Government and UN agencies on how to best support children and teens during this time. Hopefully with this understanding CSDS will be able to create effective activities in the future that enhance children and teens outcomes.
CSDS Staff working on activities from home
(Source: CSDS VN Facebook)
How You Can Get Involved
We hope that you have enjoyed catching up on the latest news from our partners. At this stage we are planning to run our end of year placements, but of course we will continue to be guided by advice from the WHO, CDC, DAFT and the Australian Government and we will closely follow their lead on the safety of overseas travel to the regions we operate in. We can’t wait to return to our partner sites and look forward to being able to work with our participants soon!
If you’d like to get in touch with, or support the initiatives of any of our partners mentioned in our blog, follow the links listed below:
Bali Appropriate Technology Institute:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/BATI-Bali-Appropriate-Technology-Institute
Website – n/a
Centre for Sustainable Development Studies
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CSDS.VN/
Website – n/a
Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay
Facebook – www.facebook.com/ShishurSevay
Website – https://www.shishursevay.org
Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Dzherelo/
Website – https://dzherelocentre.org.ua/en/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/EmpoweringCambodia
Website – www.empoweringcambodia.org
Facebook – www.facebook.com/FoxgloveProject
Website – www.foxgloveproject.com
DONATE TO: COVID-19 Rwanda Appeal http://grassroots-rwanda-gdg-j778.raisely.com/covid19-rwanda-appeal
DONATE TO: COVID-19 Chennai Appeal https://birdsnest365-gdg-j925n.raisely.com/covid19-chennai-appeal
Shanghai Gold Apple Bilingual School
Facebook – n/a
Website – http://www.jinpingguo.com.cn/
Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries Uganda
Facebook – www.facebook.com/shimuganda
Website – n/a
Stitches of Hope
Facebook – www.facebook.com/stitchesofhope
Website – www.stitchesofhope.org.au
DONATE TO: Sleeping Bag Project – https://startsomegood.com/rotary-sleeping-bag-project
If you would like to get involved in one of our projects in the developing world check out our website at: https://developmenttogether.com or https://developmenttogether.com/contact/
The capital city of Uganda is Kampala and has a population of 42.86 million (as of 2017). Uganda is best known for it’s beautiful wildlife. It is home to 50% of the world’s population of Mountain Gorillas, 11% of the worlds bird population, and has 6.8% of the world’s butterfly species. Not only that, the cuisine there is incredible! Each tribe has it’s own staple food, making the experience as unique and diverse as their culture.
There are over 50 languages spoken in Uganda but the two official languages are English and Swahili – This means interacting with the locals will be a breeze. Ugandans’ are extremely welcoming and are interested in getting to know tourists and volunteers. The weather in Uganda is lovely and warm most of the year, reaching an average max of 29 degrees Celsius. The wet seasons run from March to May and October to November.
When travelling around towns, the most common form of transport is bicycle, but be careful when riding through the more built up parts of Uganda as road rules aren’t strictly followed. If bike riding isn’t your thing, there are local buses that move between major attractions and cars available for hire.
Uganda has a wide range of culturally engaging activities that are perfect for first time visitors. Here are our top three recommendations for an exciting and eye-opening experience.
1) Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to over half of the Mountain Gorillas in Africa, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not only can you book to visit the Mountain Gorillas, but you can also hike within the forest and stay in a local village for a cultural experience. It is also one of Uganda’s best places to see many different bird species.
2) Murchison Falls
Check out the world’s most powerful waterfall on a wildlife-watching trip up the Victoria Nile. Murchison Falls National Park is one of Uganda’s best National Parks with the historic River Nile flowing through it. You will also experience some of the largest Nile Crocodiles, pods of Hippos and many species of water birds. Nearby on the open Savannah you will be able to see the endangered Rothschild Giraffes, Elephants, Antelopes, Lions and with a bit of luck the elusive Leopards.
3) Ndere Cultural Centre, Kampala
The Ndere Cultural Centre is home to Uganda’s best cultural dance group the Ndere Troupe. Enjoy dinner and a drink and watch the sun set as you enjoy the dance, singing and music presented by the Ndere Troupe as the celebrate the commonalities and rich differences of the many different tribal groups in Uganda.
Development Together currently offers internships and volunteer placements in rural Busia, near the Kenya border just 4 hours east of Kampala (the capital of Uganda). For the last two years we have been partnering with a local Not For Profit group called Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries who run Micro Economic Development Activities focusing on improving female economic independence, run a small Primary School for children in poverty, run a Re-usable Sanitary Napkin Project and provide education on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning.
Our Inter-Professional teams volunteer with out partner on local projects. These placements are suitable for Agriculture, Agri-Business, Architecture, Child Development, Commerce, Computing/IT, Education/Teaching, Engineering, Environment, Health (Nursing, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Public Health, Sexology), Social Work and Urban Planning university/college students OR professionals within these fields who are looking to give back to local communities and enhance their technical skills volunteering on sustainable community development projects.
For our upcoming 2020 internship programs, participants will spend 3, 4 or 8 weeks in Uganda, in small groups of 4-12 individuals, working collaboratively within your team and alongside local staff. Develop your skills in a supported environment with an Australian Facilitator alongside you to offer guidance and mentoring as:
- Engineering/Environment/Architecture/Urban Planning volunteers will review locals existing access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and facilities, followed by upgrading or constructing new infrastructure and facilities that may better suit locals needs.
- Agricultural volunteers will assess existing farming and animal husbandry techniques, including: crop rotation, pest management, co-planting, food security and production.
- Health/Child Development/Social Work volunteers share knowledge, deliver training and development, and up-skill locals on topics such as: menstruation, sexual and reproductive health, family planning, infant and child nutrition, positive parenting practices and child protection issues.
- Education volunteers work alongside local teachers to deliver material and develop curriculum, whilst contributing to capacity development of local staff.
- Commerce/Computer/IT volunteers spend time with local staff, micro-economic self help groups, and secondary high school children to enhance their education and technical office skills.
Community members are consulted and get involved with and contribute towards the physical labor and design process. All participants will be expected to spend time sharing knowledge and education with locals to ensure the sustainability of our projects. Development Together assists by providing most of the necessary financial funding required to complete these projects.
During the internship, participants are supported by the Development Together Australian team and our local partners in Uganda who provide introductions to local people and facilitate community engagement, along with the necessary technical support.
If you would like to get involved in one of our projects in Uganda, visit our website at: https://developmenttogether.com/location/uganda/ or email us at https://developmenttogether.com/contact/
In November, Development Together Staff Members, Natasha and Lachlan were on vacation in Bali, Indonesia and they took a day out of their holiday to see what a day in the life of a Development Volunteer might be like. They also got to assess the impact that past volunteers have had on our partner site, the Bali Appropriate Technology Institute (BATI) and the surrounding community in Kelecung.
BATI is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) based in the Tabanan Regency in Bali. Founded by Mr Rus Alit, they seek to create innovative, accessible and cost-effective water collection, filtration and storage systems for drinking, sanitation and irrigation purposes. They have also developed examples of hydro and solar power stations, simple hydraulic ram pumps to move water, generation of bio-fuel from coconut waste and other simple technologies. Examples of these solutions can be found on the grounds of the BATI training facility where people from all over the world, come to participate in a week long Sustainable and Renewable Energies Workshop which Rus runs on a regular basis.
The day started early, when we met our driver and translator, Nathan. Getting to BATI is about a 2 hour drive from Denpasar. On a map, it might not look that far, however Bali traffic is always gridlocked until after you get out of the urban centres. When we arrived at BATI, we were given a tour of the various technologies that they have developed. First off, we were shown the ‘Rus pump’, named after its inventor Rus Alit, which uses water pressure to pump water. Rainwater is collected from the gutters of the buildings on site, is passed through a series of filters and is deposited into the water tanks. These tanks make it easier for communities to collect safe drinking water, and the ‘Rus pump’ makes it a lot easier to access.
We were able to have a look at a number of other projects that BATI has worked on, including sand water filters, recycled water showers and pressurised water pumps. We were also shown what looked like a large swimming pool, but it was actually a pool of recycled water that is used to irrigate the entire BATI grounds and keep them looking lush and green all year round!
Running through BATI is a stream which was turned into a small-scale dam. This dam was created in order to produce hydro-electricity to surrounding villages, but also acts as an irrigation system for the surrounding rice fields, which has allowed the rice crops to flourish and provides not only food to the local villagers, and but also a source of income.
After this, we had a traditional Balinese lunch, consisting of local fruits and vegetables, ayam goreng (fried chicken) and a spicy kepapa (coconut) salad. Indonesia is definitely a great place to visit for a food lover. The local cuisine is diverse, cheap and always tasty! Some other Indonesian dishes to try include nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), babi guling, rendang and nasi lemak.
After lunch, we visited the Puspaya Homestay, where we got to meet members of the local community, including the namesake – Mr Puspaya! Development Together Volunteers have stayed here in the past while they assisted with constructing an underground water storage tank for a local school. We were lucky enough to visit this school to learn firsthand what the impact of this water tank has had on the students and teachers. Previously, the bathrooms were unsanitary, as there was not sufficient water in the dry season to flush the toilets, or for students to wash their hands. However, the new water tank designed and constructed by Development Together Volunteers allows toilets to be flushed after each use, as well as providing water for them to wash their hands, and this has benefited the entire school community.
Finally, we were able to visit an animal sanctuary run by local resident, Bunda. She takes in unwanted and unwell animals to care for, including over 60 dogs! This sanctuary also doubles as an extracurricular centre where local students can spend some time to help with their schooling.
After this day was over, we were sad to be leaving, as we had both developed a much greater appreciation for the work that not only Development Together and their volunteers undertake, but also the work undertaken by BATI, and the contribution made by local community members when we are partnering with them. However, we are happy to know that next week Development Together will be sending another team of volunteers to Bali, and they will continue to do so in the years to come. We know that this will contribute to positive community development in the Kelecung Region.
If you would like to get involved in one of our projects in Indonesia, check out our website at: https://developmenttogether.com/location/indonesia/ or https://developmenttogether.com/contact/