Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Episcopal Relief & Development’s Program staff convene partners in a Community of Practice call to share resources, tips and experiences. 


Web Statement

Supporting International Program Partners in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Web Statement

June 3, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to support partners around the world in response to the novel coronavirus. International Program staff are providing technical guidance through on-going community of practice calls where partners can share resources, experiences and tips. The organization is also financially supporting partners in Burundi and Malawi to meet specific needs for awareness campaigns and personal protective equipment (PPE) in their communities.

The Province of the Anglican Church in Burundi and the Anglican Council of Malawi, are focusing on educating rural communities with hygiene and sanitation best practices to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. By mobilizing existing networks of volunteers through phone trees and What’s App messages, the dioceses are raising awareness about the virus and emphasizing the need for communities to look out for their neighbors. The Anglican Council of Malawi is also providing PPE to three local hospitals and health facilities in the dioceses of Lake Malawi and Northern Malawi.

Episcopal Relief & Development has been a long-time supporter of the  Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre (JBPC), which provides comprehensive therapies for children with disabilities. When local governments shut down institutions and put travel restrictions in place in response to COVID-19, JBPC quickly transitioned to offering virtual services for children and their families. The center is now preparing for the return of children to the facility as restrictions are lifted. Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with JPBC to help their team prepare the facilities and adapt programming with appropriate safety precautions such PPE, smaller groups, physical distancing and enhanced sanitation practices.

“Our partners continue to display great resilience as they adapt to meet the on-going needs created by the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Risk and Reduction, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Episcopal Relief & Development remains committed to supporting our partners in the long-term as the crisis continues to evolve.”

Episcopal Relief & Development will share updates in the coming weeks as staff and partners continue to provide emergency and long-term assistance. Donations to the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund will continue to support their response both in the United States and around the world.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

 

 


Press Release

Episcopal Relief & Development Continues to Partner with Local Organizations Worldwide in Response to COVID-19

Press Release 

May 14, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to partner with local organizations and dioceses around the world to provide technical and financial aid in response to the novel coronavirus. The organization is in close contact with partners in 44 countries, including the United States, to assist as they adapt existing programs and to respond to specific needs created by the crisis.

In response to the physical distancing guidelines recommended by local health authorities, Episcopal Relief & Development and local partners are adapting programs to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.  For example, the Anglican Development Services of Nyanza (ADS-Nyanza) in southeastern Kenya is working with the Kenya Government Ministry of Health, Episcopal Relief & Development and other organizations on the prevention, control and home management of COVID-19. ADS-Nyanza is equipping their Community Health Volunteers and Early Childhood Promoters with personal protective equipment (PPE) and providing handwashing facilities in strategic social places as well as supporting contact tracing in several counties.

Similarly, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s guidance and support, the Anglican Diocese of Kondoa in Tanzania has begun integrating COVID-19 prevention recommendations into their Savings with Education groups. Group facilitators have been equipped with mobile phones so they can lead efforts remotely via text messaging and phone calls. Distribution of emergency supplies and food rations for those impacted by the virus and shutdowns is being conducted using appropriate safety guidelines such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing.

As COVID-19 cases grew in Myanmar, the Church of the Province of Myanmar, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, established a COVID Response Committee. The Church mobilized COVID-19 health messaging and awareness resources from the Ministry of Health and disseminated information through all eight diocesan networks. Church staff then coordinated with regional government departments to identify vulnerable households in order to provide material support such as basic food, sanitation and hygiene supplies.

Episcopal Relief & Development is also working in other countries to provide emergency food and supplies to vulnerable communities impacted by the stay-at-home orders and shutdowns. In partnership with Hope Africa, the agency is distributing food parcels to rural communities in the dioceses of Zululand and Khahlamba in South Africa. The Episcopal Diocese of Ecuador is distributing food and medical supplies to the elderly, single women and children in highly impacted areas of coastal Ecuador. In Brazil, Servicio Anglicano de Diacono e Desenvolvimento (SADD), the development arm of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, is providing food, hygiene and cleaning supplies to women, adolescents and children, particularly those in vulnerable communities such as those without homes, domestic violence survivors and other low-income communities. In Pakistan, the Women Development & Service Society (WDSS), a ministry of the Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan, is distributing food and emergency supplies to over 1,500 families.

Several partners are offering additional emergency support to their communities. SADD in Brazil is providing PPE such as face masks and lab coats to healthcare professionals. The Anglican Diocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka is helping to sanitize schools and to provide them with PPE and thermometers which will allow the schools to open safely when the country begins to reopen.

“Our Program Officers continue to meet virtually with partners in weekly Community of Practice calls to share knowledge and provide technical support,” said Abagail Nelson, Executive Vice President, Episcopal Relief & Development. “I am encouraged to see how our partners are learning, adapting and working together to serve their communities in this challenging time.”

Donations to the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund will enable Episcopal Relief & Development and their partners to continue to provide emergency assistance to communities, both in the United States and around the world, that have been impacted by the coronavirus. In the coming weeks and months, additional updates will be provided about the ongoing response to this crisis.

 

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Photo Courtesy of Servicio Anglicano de Diacono e Desenvolvimento


 

Press Release

Episcopal Relief & Development and US Partners Respond to COVID-19

Press Release

May 7, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting Episcopal Dioceses in the United States in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The organization’s US Disaster Program is providing resources, technical support and funding to meet specific needs related to the pandemic in communities around the country.

Since mid-March, the US Disaster team, in partnership with the Presiding Bishop’s office, has been holding weekly calls with bishops and key leaders in Episcopal dioceses to address the novel coronavirus pandemic. Initial steps included faith-based resources to help bishops and diocesan staff determine how to safely conduct services and to maintain community in a pandemic. As the pandemic progressed and states issued stay-at-home orders, the US Disaster team offered weekly webinars on a variety of topics such as mental health, isolation, institutional support and immigration, as well as other resources to help diocesan partners address the widespread impact of the coronavirus. The US Disaster Program continues to provide technical support as partners determine how to best respond to the unique needs in their communities, whether that be mental health care, medical care, financial assistance or other needs.

“Episcopal Relief & Development collaborates with partners to tailor very specific responses to specific needs in each community through our asset-based approach,“ said Katie Mears, Senior Director, US Disaster Program, Episcopal Relief & Development. “By working with dioceses to leverage local gifts and resources, we meet needs that are not being met by other organizations. I am continually impressed by how the Church has risen up and found innovative ways to be present in their communities and to serve their neighbors.”

In North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico, the US Disaster Program is working with long-term partners to adapt programming in light of the coronavirus and physical distancing guidelines. Many marginalized communities were already dealing with issues such as lower income or inconsistent employment, mental health concerns, lack of medical insurance and substandard housing. All of these challenges have become even more of a concern in light of the pandemic.

The Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry in North Carolina is working to meet the increased demand for their services particularly related to food, offering culturally-contextualized public health messaging and working with the state government to create standards for businesses that protect the needs of their workers. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas’ Hurricane Harvey Recovery Program is working to reduce the stigma around mental health services and to connect people with mental health resources. While following physical distancing protocols, the diocese is also continuing to provide food to vulnerable communities through the Abundant Harvest Ministry. The Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico’s Programa REDES is delivering food, water and supplies to help individuals and families who are recovering from the earthquakes earlier this year and now have been impacted by the effects of COVID-19.

In other areas of the US, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with dioceses on new initiatives to address the effects of the pandemic.

Rural communities in the United States often lack access to mental health care. Additionally, the stigma surrounding this care often means individuals don’t ask for help. For example, the rate of suicide in rural Missouri has skyrocketed in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate the situation. The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri is training 70 volunteers in Randoph and Boone counties in first aid for mental health to help identify individuals at risk in their communities and to connect these individuals with local behavioral health resources.

In Pendelton, Oregon, the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon is assisting individuals and families who have been affected by both the coronavirus and historic floods that devastated the community in early February, damaging or destroying more than 400 buildings and homes. The diocese had to adjust plans for the flooding response quickly as stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines were issued. The closure of non-essential businesses created other economic concerns. With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development, the diocese is providing assistance with rent, food and other needs to impacted individuals and families.

The COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed many of the services available to migrants in shelters on the US-Mexico border, such as La Casa Shelter, which is supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. The diocese is working with shelter staff to implement physical distancing and provide virtual support to keep all of the residents safe and healthy as they navigate the US immigration process. The Diocese of Arizona has a long-standing relationship with Cruzando Fronteras and the shelter. With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development, it is leveraging these relationships to adapt the emotional, physical and pastoral assistance provided to migrants in the shelter under the current situation.

Episcopal Relief & Development staff continue to be in contact with partners in 44 countries to offer aid and support in response to the coronavirus in their communities. The organization will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks on their response, both in the United States and around the world. Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund will continue to support the coronavirus program response both in the United States and around the world.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Photo Courtesy of Episcopal Diocese of Texas


Press Release

Episcopal Relief & Development and Program Partners Respond in Communities Impacted by COVID-19

Press Release

April 20, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development is providing financial and technical support to partner organizations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The organization continues to be in close contact with partners in 44 countries, including the United States, to provide assistance for communities affected by the novel coronavirus.

“The coronavirus pandemic has adversely impacted communities all over the world,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Response & Risk Reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development. “We are working together with our partners to determine how to respond to the urgent needs for the most vulnerable populations, whether it be food supply, medical equipment, best practices for physical distancing, hygiene or other critical supplies.”

In the Philippines, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the E-CARE Foundation in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff. As in many countries, hospitals are experiencing a shortage of critical PPE. At least one medical center, the Lung Center of the Philippines temporarily stopped accepting new patients as a result. E-CARE partners such as KASALIKA, a local community group of women organized by E-CARE, and other smaller groups will produce approximately 6,000 face masks and 1,000 gowns which will be donated primarily to hospitals in Quezon City, where there is a concentration of coronavirus treatment centers. 

Other partners such as Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Church of Bangladesh are also providing PPE, hygiene kits and essential medical supplies through partners. These critical supplies will help medical staff safely treat coronavirus patients and will help slow the spread of the disease through improved sanitation practices.

With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development, the Anglican Diocese of Guinea is coordinating with local governing officials to launch an educational campaign about the importance of hygiene in slowing down the transmission of the virus. The diocese plans to serve over 300 families through hygiene and sanitation kits. 

Episcopal Relief & Development’s International Program staff is also providing guidance and expertise in Sri Lanka. The Dioceses of Colombo and Kurunegala are distributing food, while following best practices for physical distancing, to plantation and day workers who have lost income due to the virus and shutdowns. Program staff are in close contact with other partners as they determine how best to respond to needs in their communities.

Domestically, the US Disaster Program is holding weekly partner coordination calls and public webinars to offer support to Episcopal dioceses, churches, individuals and other groups. Resources for a faith-based response to epidemics and pandemics are available here.

“One of the great strengths of Episcopal Relief & Development is our communities of practice in the areas of women, children and climate,” said Tammi Mott, Vice President, International Program Operations, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Weekly we virtually bring together our networks of partners to exchange their experiences, knowledge and mutual support. These networks are critical for identifying both immediate responses and longer-term program adaptations in the face of the novel coronavirus.”

Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund will continue to support partners around the world and in the United States in responding to the coronavirus.  

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

 


Web Statement

Supporting the Multi-religious Faith in Action COVID-19 Initiative

Web Statement

April 17, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development is proud to be one of the many organizations participating in the Multi-religious Faith in Action COVID-19 Initiative to raise awareness of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children throughout the world. This initiative is coordinated by Religions for Peace (RFP) and UNICEF with support from Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities as part of a global partnership on Faith and Positive Change for Children, Families and Communities. 

This global coalition came together to share best practices in response to the novel coronavirus and will strengthen inter-faith collaboration and community mobilization in countering the pandemic. The initiative shares resources on topics such as effective communication; countering false information, stigma and discrimination; religious gatherings and adapting funerals burials and other rituals; promoting spiritual well-being, resilience and community service;  protecting children and vulnerable populations and addressing the special needs of people in low resource settings. 

“The Multi-religious Faith in Action COVID-19 Initiative is a great opportunity to join together with other organizations to share knowledge and best practices that will enable a more effective response to the novel coronavirus,” said Abagail Nelson, Executive Vice President, Episcopal Relief & Development. “By sharing resources, we can work together, in faith, to create lasting change in the lives of children around the world.” 

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

 


Web Statement

Our Programs Respond to COVID-19

Web Statement

April 3, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with program partners, both in the United States and around the world, to adapt programming in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Our programs rely on partners visiting communities in-person for a range of activities including conducting home visits, collecting family and child health data, supporting savings groups, distributing emergency supplies after a disaster, and teaching early childhood development principles. Particularly in remote areas, face-to-face contact is a part of how Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners work. As a result, we are reevaluating how we can continue to support the communities we work with while protecting the safety of our partners, staff and program participants.

Health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization, have recommended physical distancing as a way to slow the infection rate of the coronavirus. Additionally, many local authorities, both in the United States and abroad, have instituted guidelines to stay at home or to shelter in place. 

In mid-March, our program staff reached out to all our partners to learn how the coronavirus was impacting their communities specifically and to support them as we navigate the pandemic together. We received over 100 responses from 44 countries around the world. 

“We were encouraged to hear from so many partners from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America & the Caribbean and the United States,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Response & Risk Reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development. “Their responses were a reminder that we are truly one Church body, all called to share God’s love with our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Several themes came up in the responses to the survey. Most importantly, all our program partners affirmed their role in continuing to serve the most vulnerable communities and seeing themselves as a trusted source of information to those they serve. Protocols are being set in place in order to continue to safely serve these communities, and we remain committed to our work.

It is also clear from responses that the coronavirus is having a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, many of whom lack the resources to stockpile food and supplies. Many partners shared concerns about the loss of income that is faced by those who cannot work due to physical distancing measures or the closure of non-essential businesses. Some governments are closing borders to protect their citizens from the coronavirus. In several countries, for example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Myanmar and Venezuela, daily and weekly shopping trips in many communities often depend on crossing the border. Border closures create additional food insecurity.

Several partners expressed that connectivity and technology is a barrier in some of the communities that we work in. Our program team is supporting partners in developing systems and strategies to take advantage of technology where possible and to find alternative, safe ways of responding in areas where connectivity is a challenge. These connectivity challenges can also make consistent communication with some of our partners difficult. One partner in the Philippines reported needing to travel one kilometer from their home in order to connect to the internet.

Other partners shared concerns about facing the pandemic and the reality of physical distancing in communities without running or clean water, where many are living with HIV, malaria and other illnesses that compromise the immune system. In many countries, the health care system is not equipped to respond to such a crisis.

As an organization, we are already responding by developing or enhancing tools to support partners as they serve their communities. These tools promote spiritual, humanitarian relief, equipment, health messaging and pastoral ministries while conforming to physical distancing and other public health guidelines. For example, safe practices can address how to feed vulnerable households while minimizing the spread of the virus or how communities can develop a timetable so that water collection at wells are spaced apart to avoid gatherings of people.

Additional specific needs will become clear as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. Our team is already beginning to hear from partners such as the Anglican Diocese of Guinea about tangible ways Episcopal Relief & Development can support them in response to the needs created by the coronavirus. We will continue to share updates in the coming weeks and months. 

“The situation created by the novel coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and much is uncertain right now,” said Abagail Nelson, Executive Vice-President for Episcopal Relief Development. “And yet, God is good. All the time, God is good. God is with us. God is calling us all to be together with our acts of love: our time, our talents and our treasure. And Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to this call.”

To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, please consider making a donation. Learn more about a faith-based response to epidemics and pandemics here.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

 


 

Web Statement

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Web Statement

March 25, 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development is taking steps to ensure the health and safety of all employees, partners and program participants in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). 

Our team is creating resources for partners to enable them to continue to serve their communities during this time, and we are also adjusting programming to allow for physical distancing recommended by health officials. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and fluid and has created challenges for partners, individuals and communities in the United States and around the world, and we remain committed to supporting program partners in their work to serve vulnerable communities.

In support of the recommendations by local, state and federal authorities, and to protect the health of employees, we have responded in the following ways: 

  • Canceling or postponing all domestic and international travel until May 15, 2020.
  • Closing the New York City office out of an abundance of caution as of March 18, 2020.
  • Closing the Ghana regional office on March 23, 2020.
  • Setting up systems and protocols for all employees to telecommute.

While Episcopal Relief & Development staff may not be in the office, our team is continuing to work remotely to support program partners both domestically in the United States and around the world. 

The US Disaster Program is responding to the pandemic by equipping Episcopal dioceses, congregations and individuals to know the facts, combat fear, and continue to offer worship, resources and services to the most vulnerable in ways that minimize risk and maintain safety. We have created resources for a faith-based response to epidemics, including Bible studies and on-going weekly webinars to help address the challenges created by the virus and the physical distancing that is recommended by health experts. 

Episcopal Relief & Development is also in contact with both domestic and international partners to provide support as partners respond to the virus and adjust existing programming. For the safety of staff, partners and program participants, our teams are reevaluating how to safely conduct programs while still achieving measurable results. Many current programs depend on in-person contact and have developed protocols to provide the physical distancing needed at this time.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund was established to enable the organization to continue to respond to the pandemic. Donations to this fund support the creation of additional critical resources to help local communities both immediately and in the long run, and will ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information about the disease is shared through ongoing trainings on personal and community preparedness as the crisis evolves. This fund will also support partners as they respond to the needs of high-risk communities who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.  

“During this time of uncertainty, Episcopal Relief & Development remains committed to caring for our staff and partners,” said Robert W. Radtke, President & CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development. “We will continue to adapt and respond to meet the needs of the most vulnerable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For additional resources and tools for a faith-based response to epidemics, click here. Donations to the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund to support our response can be made online or through the mail to Episcopal Relief & Development, Attn: Katie Heiston, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058, where it will be processed by our mail house.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.