Life in Tanzania with Covid-19
Six weeks ago the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Tanzania and our schools and orphanages were immediately closed. Our 200+ kids have been sent to stay with relatives all over in very poor homes. We are doing our VERY best to provide support for all Neema students and their families during this time but it has been extremely difficult– being in such a rural and impoverished area, our options are very limited without electricity, access to Internet, and even honest and clear news and information from the government. Places of worship haven’t been closed and the lack of information being given to the public has caused fear. This results in people seeking comfort in prayer and community – which has caused wide spread local transmission of Covid-10 – placing Tanzania with the highest number of cases in the East African community. Other than closing schools, the only other action that has been taken is closing the country’s borders. This has made importing and exporting extremely difficult for businesses and has caused the tourism industry, which the economy depends upon, to completely plummet.
While we are not on lockdown or under quarantine, the situation here is dire. In the four years that Neema has been working in Uru, our children have NEVER spent more than two weeks out of school or out of our immediate care. They have gone from recieving hours of love and stimulation, education, adequate nutrition, and access to healthcare and first aid from Neema International to being stuck at home. For the majority of our students this means living in shanty makeshift homes or mud huts with no plumbing or electricity. Almost all our students live with parents or caregivers who only went to primary school – some of them cannot read and write, others cannot see properly to even engage in studying with the kids. In the worst situations, the caregivers have immune-deficiencies such as HIV/Aids or Tuberculosis and are already struggling to survive without the threat of this new virus. In a study on Sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to deal with Covid-19, the World Health Organization reported that there are less than 2000 working ventilators to serve hundreds of millions of people in public hospitals across 41 countries on the African continent. Children and families in Uru need our help now more than ever.
What are we doing to help our students?
We are working hard to provide reliable news and information to as many families as possible while we are out of school. We have put some measures in place for teachers who live in the community to “patrol” their streets to ensure our kiddos are taking precautions and staying healthy. They also have provided each student with three separate study packets to work on during this “break” so that they can practice their English and stay sharp even just sitting at home.
Our teachers’ greatest concern right now is cleanliness and nutrition for our students — some of the kids, especially those living with elderly grandparents or great grandparents, have become extremely thin during this time away from Neema. We are trying our best to get emergency food, solar lights and hygiene packages out to every student in the next week. We are able to cover some of the costs of these packages with the money that we are not currently spending on food at the school, but the prices of food, soap and hand sanitizer have all sky rocketed as the economy in Tanzania – and around the world – has crashed.
How can you make a difference?
Each student’s emergency package will cost about $50, costing a total of $10,000 for all our kids. We can cover half of this amount on our own, but desperately need your help to come up with the other half. These care packages will provide enough food for at least 4 to 6 weeks per child, which will be incredible. We know that other parts of the world are currently more affected in terms of the number of cases and deaths they have suffered due to Covid-19, but we too are suffering and we can do SO MUCH with so little here… so please consider contributing whatever you can to help us cover these bags.
We are thinking of you all now and always, and send you and your families love and positive vibes!
xoxo Neema International Team