Our international partners have faced a number of challenges this year, including COVID. It makes difficult reading but we believe that you should know the harsh realities as well as the good news stories.
The Lukashenko regime continues to crush democracy and violate human rights. With new sanctions and rules being imposed on an almost weekly basis, it has now become impossible to keep the ACET Belarus projects running. Contact with the team is very difficult as all communications are monitored and just being in contact with international organisations carries heavy penalties.
22 of the 36 states now have outbreaks of cholera as well as COVID, which is also on the rise. Criminal gangs have continued to indiscriminately kidnap children, and one of the team’s brother was kidnapped. Praise God he has now been returned, physically unharmed. ACET Nigeria Director, Sunday, says that they can often hear gunshots, several houses close to the office have been burnt down, many people have been killed by gunmen, and several schools are shut due to the threat of kidnap. The team so far have remained safe, but there is much unrest.
A team member’s father died in July and there have been many deaths in the community from COVID, including two long-term patients of the Nireekshana ACET clinic. This was so sad for the team. One good news story is that a pregnant lady who believed she would have to terminate her baby as she had HIV, is now going to keep the child, after receiving extensive counselling and support at Nireekshana.
COVID deaths sadly keep rising. The number of teen pregnancies has also increased dramatically during lockdown as well as the number of child marriages. It has been difficult for Shining Star to support the peer educators due to lockdowns and curfews. All the team have had COVID but they continue to do their best with great results (read more).
The number of COVID cases continues to rise and tragically here too, teen pregnancies have increased. Naomi has started up a new project in Mbale specifically to support these teen mums. The country has been in full lockdown since June but there has been a partial lifting in some places since the end of July. The schools are still closed and it is difficult to get around as there are still curfews in place.
A volcano eruption earlier in the year sent many people fleeing to neighbouring Rwanda. The COVID situation is very bad with up to 79% of new cases being the new Delta variant. The uptake of vaccines is very low: with only 2000 miles of paved roads in a country the size of Western Europe, just delivering vaccines is very difficult.
Staff shortages in hospitals have made COVID very difficult to bear, with many doctors having left due to the war or the pandemic. Vaccinations started late with the lowest numbers rolled out in Europe, but thus far the team are well and the work continues.