In the upcoming weeks, you will notice that our Weekly News posts and blogs will be a little different. We have made some changes due to COVID-19. We want to stay connected with you and keep you updated on how things are going at our various Villages; however, we also want to ensure we are following all government regulations and World Health Organization guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our children and staff. Here are some things that will be different:
- We are no longer holding any events or gatherings, so updates will be related to construction, COVID-19 prevention methods, and staff/children stories.
- We no longer require photos with each story, this means some stories will have photos and others won’t. This is to ensure no one has to leave home in order to take a picture for a weekly news story.
- We are giving each Village the flexibility to skip a week in order to give our Directors a break when they need it.
- We will share occasional updates on the presence of COVID-19 in Africa and the countries where we work. Please do not rely on us as your primary news source, though. We recommend following reputable news sites for more thorough and up-to-date information. Our updates will be brief and will be dated and sourced.
We encourage you to read this important update from our Executive Director if you haven’t yet.
Please continue to support our work during these uncertain times through child sponsorship and donations.
Here are the stories for this week…
COVID-19 In Africa
Major African stats as of April 22:
- Confirmed cases: 24,696
- Number of deaths: 1,193
- Recoveries: 6,415
- Infected countries: 52
- Virus-free countries: 2 (Lesotho, Comoros)
Updates from where we work as of April 22:
- Burundi: 11 cases
- Malawi: 17 cases
- Tanzania: 49 cases
- Zambia: 70 cases
- Zimbabwe: 28 cases
VOH Africa Society News
We are thankful that despite travel bans and tight government restrictions, the VOH Africa leadership can continue meeting regularly over video. Discussing how we can provide care for the VOH children during the COVID-19 pandemic is our top priority.
Our meetings are a time to encourage one another, pray for one another and the Villages, and to learn from one another.
At our meeting last week the Directors and Administrators from all of our Villages met with the organization’s Directors, Sergio and Nancy Bersaglio. We discussed how each country’s government is responding to COVID-19 and how the pandemic is impacting the day-to-day life of VOH children and staff.
Depending on the location, we are either delivering food packs to the children and their families or having the children come to the Village in small, and safely organized numbers to receive their meal. We are also safely delivering important school work to the students so they don’t fall too far behind.
We appreciate your continued prayers and support. There are many new challenges and expenses as a result of COVID-19, but we are committed to providing care and being a light of hope in the communities where our VOH centers are located.
Pictured left to right:
Sergio: VOH Africa, Nancy: VOH Africa, Pastor Zowa: VOH Zimbabwe, Matt and Georgina: VOH Mongu, Nadine and Delson: VOH Bwiza and VOH Maramvya, Julius and Jade: VOH Mwanza and VOH Bulale, Jeanette: VOH Africa, Samuel and Shaline: VOH Chongwe, Renatta and Jef: VOH Malawi, Everlyn: VOH Kitwe and VOH Luongo, Richard: VOH Zimbabwe, Fridah: VOH Kitwe and Luongo
Chongwe (Zambia): Managing Our Feeding Program During COVID-19
At VOH Chongwe, we continue to care for our children by keeping the feeding program open. Every Saturday morning a few staff pack HEPS Porridge in packs of 2kgs and distributing it to the VOH students and their siblings so they can continue having a healthy diet.
The feeding program plays an important role in our ministry and the lives of the children in our care. For some children, this is their only meal for the day.
This new distribution process takes a lot more time and planning, but it’s worth it!
Kitwe (Zambia): Care During COVID-19
At VOH Kitwe, even though schools are closed, our students can still come to the Village to pick up school work, receive HEPS Porridge, and visit the clinic if they are unwell.
They come at allotted times each day in small numbers with the supervision of a teacher for each group.
Even though the center is not as busy as it normally is, we are thankful we can continue ensuring our children remain healthy and safe.
Luongo (Zambia): Welcoming Fatuma as Senior Teacher!
VOH Luongo is happy to announce that VOH Kitwe graduate Fatuma is now working at our Village as our Senior Teacher!
Our Kitwe lead team, who oversees operations at Kitwe and Luongo, paid a visit to see how the new school structure is coming along and to officially welcome Fatuma into her new role.
Although we all had to keep a safe distance, it was still good to visit and encourage her from a distance. Fatuma was happy to show us the progress of the new school that is being built. The school will open once our local government and the WHO say it’s safe.
Welcome, Fatuma! It is good to have you on our team!
Maramvya (Burundi): Preventing the Spread
Our second term of school recently ended at VOH Maramvya. Although the government of Burundi has not officially enforced physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have still taken our own steps to combat the spread of the virus.
One of the measures we have taken is to ensure there is always a minimum of 1.5 meters distance between the children and the staff (slightly higher than the 1-meter recommendation from the World Health Organization). Everyone is cooperating and we know our efforts will be successful.
We are also taking this opportunity to spread the word among parents and guardians in the community about taking simple precautions like washing hands and physical distancing from others.
We are happy to be a part of the prevention!
Mongu (Zambia): Crafts While Staying Home
Here at VOH Mongu, our children’s homes are trying to make the best of these hard circumstances by trying new crafts, activities, games, and hobbies!
This week, they were taught how to make art by rubbing leaves and flowers onto paper. They loved this activity and had so much fun finding all of the most interesting designs on the leaves and flowers around them.
They then had lots of fun turning these rubbings into drawings of butterflies and flowers and decorating the rest of their drawings!
The children are loving having extra time to be creative during this ‘stay-at-home’ period.
Mwanza (Tanzania): Adjusting to a New Normal
The kids in our children’s homes at VOH Mwanza have been laying low these days and doing their best to keep safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But while “normal life” has changed, life hasn’t stopped and they are finding ways to keep busy at home.
All of our kids are still studying. They receive weekly homework packages from their teachers, so they take time each day to continue studying at home.
They’re also helping with cooking and cleaning at home, ensuring everyone is keeping their environment extra clean and eating nutritious foods to help build immunity.
In addition, everyone is washing their hands frequently with wash stations set up all around our Village.
Generally, the children are adjusting well to this new normal and they are doing their best to keep their families and communities safe by staying home.
Zimbabwe: Getting Creative at Home
School holidays are landing at the same time as the government-enforced school shutdown here in Zimbabwe. For the VOH children who live in our children’s homes, it has been a time to bond with each other, playing games and doing house chores with their mothers.
The children are getting creative by finding simple games they can play (like UNO) together with those who live in the same home. They also made an indoor golf course!
They are also helping their house mothers with gardening and other chores.
They miss getting to play on the playground with the other children from the VOH community, but they understand why it’s important to stay home right now.
The children’s safety remains a priority at this time and we will always work with the caregivers to ensure such is ensured.