Wash Your Hands to Help Prevent COVID-19 Spread!

Keep Your Social Distance, Too, Please!

Photo: CWS

In Asia, Church World Service (CWS) works with families, communities, governments, ecumenical and technical partners and other non-government organizations to help some of the region’s most vulnerable people. Most often we partner in support of long-term socioeconomic development and, when needed, we help people cope with the effects and aftermath of natural and manmade crises across the region.

Adjusting and Coping with Creativity and Focus Across Asia

Washing our hands is a critical part of basic hygiene. It helps stop the spread of germs and diseases, from diarrhea to coronavirus. For many years, CWS has supported families worldwide as they access clean water and learn about how washing hands helps keep us all healthy. Photo: CWS

In continuing response to the novel corona virus (COVID-19) that emerged in late 2019, CWS is adjusting and coping – creatively and positively – in line with all government requirements and requests across Asia. In Cambodia, our partners are postponing many awareness-raising and education sessions until further notice. But, some activities that have five or fewer people gathering are continuing. Of course, community leaders and village volunteers are changing their ways of working. But, they are sharing information for behavior change for COVID-19. Virtual “home visits” are being done using mobile phone video aps. Amazingly, there is ‘drive by’ information-sharing! With motorcycle drivers and messengers duly protected, CWS partners are sharing basic information about COVI9-19 prevention measures. Separately, at the Global Network for Disaster Reduction’s request, Cambodia’s Views from the Frontline 2019 workshops are postponed for now.

Our CWS Japan team is identifying activities in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam projects that can continue or be modified to allow progress to continue for disaster risk reduction (DRR) work. For example, we are exploring web-based DRR technology for transfer, and we are encouraging partners to work with maximum flexibility. Of course, all meetings, including those within Japan, are now virtual. And, CWS is also among Japanese non-government organizations (NGOs) advocating for more use Japan’s development assistance to support international cooperation with other countries at COVID-19 risk.

In Indonesia and Timor-Leste, CWS continues all water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), DRR and livelihoods support activities, with minor adjustments, to plans. All communities and families who participate in Timor Zero Hunger and DREAM (DRR) initiative are active. Recovery work in Central Sulawesi from the September 2018 earthquake and tsunami continues, too. Mission critical work such as life-saving access to health services and COVID-19 education and information, continues for refugees in Jakarta. Creatively, the health helpdesk for refugees is going virtual.

Washing hands at Khuon Pong kindergaten in Chiem Hoa-Vietnam. Photo: CWS

Activities in Myanmar, where CWS and partners work just a few hours west from Yangon in the Ayeyarwady River delta, also continue. The team there is able to proceed with minor adjustments to our Community-Based Resilience and Development plans. The initiative includes one-on-one work with families for sanitary latrine construction, which continues apace. Separately, livelihoods support – house by house – is on schedule. Changes made are to respect a government mandate to cap gatherings at nine people each. So, the Maubin YMCA, who we support, has shifted to smaller sewing classes. At the request of the Global Network for Disaster Reduction, Myanmar’s Views from the Frontline 2019 community planning workshops are postponed until community leaders are ready to reengage.

In Thailand, our child protection project with The Church of Christ in Thailand is going virtual, and the team is preparing to beta test a virtual Writer Workshop for schools and churches. The plan is for the team to backstop the virtual workshops in real time from the office. People will meet in small groups – with all due social distancing and mask-wearing – to write their Child Safeguarding Codes of Conduct. Separately, construction work at the Kwai River Christian Hospital, near the Thai-Myanmar border in west central Thailand, continues. Finally, the Vietnam team is reviewing work plans with an eye on creative and flexible ways to prioritize WASH improvement and DRR planning activities. The team will work virtually with partners to continue as planned, or in new ways. Like colleagues across the region and around the world, despite challenges due to wise Government caution and restrictions on movement and gatherings, the Vietnam team is hard at work!

Building a world where there is enough for all

CWS works in partnership with communities and families in six Southeast Asian countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam – to help them improve their lives. We do this by enhancing access to information, hands-on education and training for development and disaster preparedness. National teams and local partners follow up with individuals and communities with coaching and monitoring to help ensure quality, accountability and sustainability. In Japan, CWS supports the work of CWS Japan: its advocacy and humanitarian initiatives in Japan as well as its development outreach and emergency response in other countries.

Security guard checking the temperature at the group home (in Indonesia). Photo: CWS

CWS-CCT Child Safeguarding team in Thailand with the CCT District Five team. Pastor Thirakit is at the top right in the photo. Photo: CWS

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