Just a few weeks ago, Ethiopia surpassed 70,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,100 COVID-related deaths, according to Xinhua News. And while the virus remains a very serious threat, the real COVID threat is how COVID is affecting the local way of life in Ethiopia. The developing country is facing issues detrimental to the country’s progress including starvation, poor health care, lack of education, and increases in child marriages as a result of COVID.

Our partners at Addis Jemari and A Glimmer of Hope see these issues firsthand and are working hard to combat them, but the past 6 months have been a struggle. 

Our contacts with A Glimmer of Hope mentioned a few ways life is being affected beyond the virus when we asked them how things were going this week. For example, fewer people are going to nearby health clinics when they are sick or giving birth out of fear of catching the virus, which only increases their chances of having something go seriously wrong while trying to take these matters into their own hands. When people do test positive for the virus, they’re taken to a quarantine center until they test negative, but space, equipment, and resources for this are limited.

Just like the United States, farmers and small businesses are being affected by the virus. Many markets and businesses remain closed, which coupled with a lack of goods being sold has resulted in inflation. This inflation is drastically affecting farmers, who are selling productive assets to attempt to feed their families. It has also affected women-owned businesses as they’ve been unable to open. 

Much like the United States, schooling in Ethiopia has also been impacted. Large numbers of students living in rural areas do not have access to the radio, making virtual schooling impossible. There are mixed messages across the country on whether or not to return to school once the rainy season ends in a few weeks, causing a lot of confusion. Girls are disproportionately affected by the issues surrounding schools, and as families struggle to feed themselves, are at increased risk for child marriage and violence.

The issues Ethiopians are facing can seem overwhelming, especially as our friends at Addis Jemari and A Glimmer of Hope prioritize keeping themselves safe from the virus while continuing their work. We are so proud to partner with these organizations to help in any way we can from afar while they do the work on the ground. 

Addis Jemari has a Covid-19 relief fund they’ve been using to help get families emergency food and hygiene supplies each month while they continue to quarantine and face a lack of supplies in markets. While some families are integrating back into the workforce, Addis Jemari hopes to continue the program over the next few months to slowly wean families from the aid while they get back on their feet. It takes $50 per family for them to receive teff, oil, flour, rice, beans, shiro, and eggs, as well as five bars of soap for the month, which can make a huge difference.

We’ve written before about Addis Jemari’s incredible education initiatives, particularly through Charlie’s Library and Tutoring Center. Unfortunately, students are still not meeting in person, but we’ve been working still to ensure the center is fully stocked and ready for when that day comes – hopefully soon! We’ve helped supply benches, whiteboards, and other tutoring supplies thanks to your donations. In the meantime, Addis Jemari workers have been working with students individually and in small groups who are studying for national exams during the pandemic, as well as tutoring mothers who need additional literacy training. The work never stops! 

Addis Jemari is not alone. In June, A Glimmer of Hope used their emergency response funds to provide PPE and medical materials, support awareness and education around the virus and provide food to malnourished and food-insecure families in an Oromia community, all while retaining their full staff. This is huge.

Currently, A Glimmer of Hope is working to restart their partner plans in Kola Tembien where they’ll offer safe loan training for 1,500 loan recipients in October. They’re also hoping to be able to travel to the local communities they’re helping in the next month, depending on mandatory quarantine rules and regulations. 

Now more than ever, the farming and income-generating skills, clean water, hygiene and sanitation, and access to education and health services that A Glimmer of Hope helps local families gain access to are important in ensuring families are set to survive the extenuating circumstances of this pandemic. We are so excited to continue to work with them to support the work they are doing in Kola Tembien. 

It’s true: this pandemic has affected every single one of us in one way or another. And while we know it has affected you and your loved ones, we hope you’ll consider sharing whatever you can to help others get through this difficult time. If you’d like to donate to Charlie’s Heart Foundation to continue to support initiatives led by Addis Jemari or A Glimmer of Hope, click here.