Asia & The Pacific
Asia & The Pacific
Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting partners in Asia and the Pacific as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting partners in Asia and the Pacific as they provide emergency assistance such as food, PPE and hygiene kits to vulnerable communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent disasters. The organization also advised long-term partners as they adapted existing programs to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Church of Bangladesh, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, provided personal protective equipment, hygiene kits and essential medical supplies to 11 medical clinics in Bangladesh, enabling medical practitioners to safely treat coronavirus patients. These clinics are located in vulnerable communities where government health infrastructure is limited.
Additionally, the Church leveraged these clinics to provide food and agricultural support, such as saplings and vegetable seeds, to farmers who were impacted by both the heavy rains following Cyclone Amphan and COVID-19. The clinics also disseminated information about how to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and distributed personal protective equipment to 5,000 people.
Early in the pandemic, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action, India (CASA) assisted marginalized communities who have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 and the national lockdown that impacted the livelihoods of many workers. CASA provided food, sanitation kits and cash assistance to the most vulnerable families in villages in the Arni Block of the Yavatmal district of India.
Episcopal Relief & Development supported CASA India’s response to needs created by the second wave of COVID-19. Using wall murals and hand washing stations at prominent market locations, CASA raised awareness of the importance of hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Volunteers and leaders traveled between the villages making announcements over speakers about the need for vaccination and directing people to vaccination sites run by the government and local health authorities. Additionally, the agency provided hygiene kits of face masks, soap and sanitizers, as well as direct financial support to families of COVID-19 patients to help food and medical care.
When local governments shut down institutions and put travel restrictions in place in response to COVID-19, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre (JBPC) quickly transitioned to offering virtual services for children and their families. Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with JPBC to help their team prepare the facilities and adapt programming with appropriate safety precautions such personal protective equipment (PPE), smaller groups, physical distancing and enhanced sanitation practices in preparation for the return of children to the center.
Additionally, Episcopal Relief & Development supported the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as they provided medication and PPE, such as masks, gloves and gowns, to Al Ahli and Saint Luke’s hospitals, enabling the hospital staff to continue to provide quality medical care to the most marginalized communities.
The Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, a long-term partner of Episcopal Relief & Development, operates two centers, the Jofeh and Kreimeh Community Rehabilitation Centers, providing education for children with disabilities in the Jordan Valley. When the COVID-19 Pandemic began, both centers adapted quickly to continue to provide education in through the innovative use of digital tools such as videos that were distributed via WhatsApp. Teachers printed documents and homework assignments for students without access to smartphones. The centers used WhatsApp to continue therapies and instruction, with specialized team members overseeing all efforts.
As local governments eased restrictions, the centers began to reopen with protocols to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus. With Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, the staff created physical barriers that allow speech therapists to safely work with students in person. Staff also coordinated additional training on online learning to ensure the needs of students are met, and is providing four new computers to support distance learning, as well as additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for in-person learning and home visits.
At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Episcopal Relief & Development supported a program to help ensure the safety of students and teachers in the classroom. Teachers and staff had noticed over the summer that not all parents and students were committed to wearing a mask, washing hands or physical distancing.
In response, staff outlined sanitation practices for the classroom and appropriate hygiene practices for the students and parents. The centers also have increased communications to raise awareness about COVID-19, reinforcing these distancing and hygiene practices. The diocese hired and trained 24 additional assistant teachers to help supervise and enforce these new measures designed to reduce the spread of the virus. Additionally, the centers provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and thermometers to check people’s temperature.
Marginalized communities in Lebanon have been impacted immensely by the country’s economic crisis which the COVID-19 shutdown has exacerbated. The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, working through the Anglican Alliance in coordination with the Middle East Council of Churches and Episcopal Relief & Development, focused on vulnerable households. The organizations provided assistance to children with disabilities at the St. Luke’s Center and distributed cash grants to female migrant domestic workers who lost their jobs and homes. Additionally, the agencies offered food to local families who have lost their livelihoods due to the crisis.
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.
18 months after the COVID-19 Pandemic began, the Church has identified a role in meeting gaps in available health care services. Convening a group of medical doctors, the COVID Response Committee set up a hotline to provide timely and accurate information about prevention, home-care and treatment for the virus. The task force also produced multi-media video clips and flyers for messaging campaigns. With Episcopal Relief & Development’s support and in coordination with the Anglican Alliance, the Church will expand this work and open an oxygen center – purchasing, storing, refilling and distributing much-needed oxygen and medication for critical patients.
Working though the ACT Alliance, Episcopal Relief & Development supported DanChurchAid (DCA) as it assisted marginalized groups such as people with disabilities, women and LGBTQ communities through cash grants which could be used to either support medical needs or loss of income due to the pandemic. DCA also provided personal protective equipment, handwashing stations and other support to health facilities and COVID-19 isolation centers in two districts in Sudur Paschim.
In Pakistan, the Women Development & Service Society (WDSS), a ministry of the Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan, distributed food, medicine and other emergency supplies to over 1,500 families who had been impacted by the pandemic and government-imposed shutdowns. Many day laborers and factory workers lost their livelihoods due to the lockdowns and are unable to purchase necessary supplies or cover regular expenses. WDSS worked to support these vulnerable communities.
While Pakistan is no longer on lockdown due to COVID-19, the economic effects of the pandemic remain. The Diocese of Multan, Church of Pakistan is continuing its work to support female entrepreneurs by distributing hygiene kits and providing cash grants for food and other needs.
Initially, Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with the E-CARE Foundation in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff. As in many countries, hospitals experienced 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 produced approximately 6,000 face masks and 1,000 gowns that were donated primarily to hospitals in Quezon City, where there is a concentration of coronavirus treatment centers.
In response to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, E-CARE established a new Disaster Resiliency Fund to provide targeted and timely emergency grants to households and community groups that are particularly vulnerable. Through this fund, which is supported by Episcopal Relief & Development and other ecumenical partners, E-CARE is able to respond to both current and future emergency needs. While this project is focused on responding to disasters, E-CARE’s efforts are different from many other disaster response programs. It seeks to enable individuals, families and communities to survive the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in a dignifying and resilient way that doesn’t involve the traditional distribution of relief goods. Rather, the fund recognizes and builds upon people’s strengths, such as labor power and skills. The project specifically targets those whose livelihoods or sources of income have either been lost or damaged as a result of the current pandemic.
In December 2021, Typhoon Rai, locally named Odette, hit the Philippines, leaving approximately 2.4 million people in need of assistance. The typhoon damaged or destroyed over 1.2 million homes. While COVID-19 infections have dropped and local restrictions have been eased somewhat, the ongoing pandemic is a complicating factor. Many people had been limited over the past two years in what income they could earn due to the restrictions in movement and capacity. Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting E-CARE as it works alongside impacted communities. E-CARE staff and volunteers are partnering with communities to assess available resources and identify potential long-term income streams.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s International Program staff provided guidance and technical expertise to the dioceses of Colombo and Kurunegala as they responded to COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, diocesan staff and volunteers distributed food, while following best practices for physical distancing, to plantation and day workers who had lost income due to the virus and shutdowns. Additionally, the Diocese of Colombo helped to sanitize schools and to provide them with personal protective equipment and thermometers as the schools prepared to open safely.
The third wave of COVID-19 infections in Sri Lanka caused schools to close and the country to shut down again in May 2021. The intense monsoon season multiplied the effects of this wave. In response, the Diocese of Colombo provided 765 households with food provisions.
Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) supported vulnerable and displaced families in Syria by distributing critically needed hygiene and educational kits to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. By mobilizing their existing network of church and community-based partners, FMEEC provided soap, sanitizers and cleaning supplies and a leaflet with information on how to reduce the spread of the coronavirus to communities in Damascus, Aleppo, As-Sweida, Homs, Lattakia and Tartous.
The Episcopal Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, provided personal protective equipment for the medical staff and patients at the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic. Yemen has been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as the healthcare system was already limited due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and civil war. This provision of PPE, such as masks and gloves, and disinfectant enabled the clinic to continue providing care for vulnerable and displaced communities while helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Updated March 25, 2022