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 International Program staff are in regular contact with partners in 44 countries around the world to provide technical expertise and financial assistance in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The organization 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. The organization is also advising long-term partners as they adapt existing programs to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
During the initial days of the pandemic, large numbers of Afghan refugees returned from Iran back into Afghanistan, leading to significant humanitarian needs along the border. As the pandemic progressed, food scarcity increased along with a public health crisis. With Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, Afghans4Tomorrow (A4T) is working closely with local ministries and national disaster management authorities for a coordinated humanitarian response, including health, education, mental health and food distribution. A4T is providing 800 families in Barikab District with food parcels of rice and mung and educational materials about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Church of Bangladesh, with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support, is providing 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 is leveraging 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 are also disseminating information about how to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and distributing 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 is supporting 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 is raising awareness of the importance of hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Volunteers and leaders are traveling 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 is providing 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 is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as they provide 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 have 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 newcomputers to support distance learning, as well as additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for in-person learning and home visits.
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, has been focusing on vulnerable households. The organizations are providing assistance to children with disabilities at the St. Luke’s Center and distributing cash grants to female migrant domestic workers who lost their jobs and homes. Additionally, the agencies are offering 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.
In Pakistan, the Women Development & Service Society (WDSS), a ministry of the Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan, is distributing food, medicine and other emergency supplies to over 1,500 families who have been impacted by the pandemic and government-imposed shutdowns. Many day laborers and factory workers have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdowns and are unable to purchase necessary supplies or cover regular expenses. WDSS is working 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.
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 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 is establishing 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 will be 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.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s International Program staff is providing guidance and technical expertise to the dioceses of Colombo and Kurunegala as they respond to COVID-19. Diocesan staff and volunteers 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. Additionally, the Diocese of Colombo is helping to sanitize schools and to provide them with PPE and thermometers which will allow the schools to open safely as the country begins to reopen.
Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) is supporting 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, is providing 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 will enable the clinic to continue providing care for vulnerable and displaced communities, while helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Updated May 3, 2021