Edmund Rice Network Activity Continues Around the World

The current Corona virus crisis has shifted the focus of activity within the Edmund Rice Network around the globe.

In India Br Steve Rocha and Anisha George report that Pratyek is reaching out to vulnerable families. By the end of March 350 families  in New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, UP, West Bengal, and Assam had been provided with soap, detergent and rations for up to 10 days. Families with disabilities are being especially targetted. The aim is to raise funds to reach 4000 groups or families through the national children’s parliaments.

Regular counselling sessions, remedial classes and advocacy sessions are continuing online for young leaders.

In South Africa, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator Jessica Dewhurst reports that on the 26th March, South Africa went into a 21 day lockdown.

Pre-lockdown the Justice Desk coordinated the delivery of vital medication, face masks and food parcels to marginalised families in townships.

Two staff are now in full quarantine, having possibly come into contact with people with COVID-19. Some remaining staff are working from home during the lockdown. Management is coordinating the packing and delivering of 9000 food packages each week to children and vulnerable families during the lockdown.

All other Justice Desk trainings and education  sessions have been moved online with trainings now delivered via Zoom. Community empowerment workshops for the next 3 months have been pre-filmed and are being sent via WhatsApp to community members each week. Two staff are identifying women and children kept with their abusers during lockdown and working alongside partner organisations to have them rescued and taken to safe-centres.

From New York, ERI Advocacy co-ordinator Sean D’Alfonso reports that whilst schools are closed students, families and alumni from various schools have been involved in collecting, donating and creating supplies to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. An alumnus from a school in Michigan is creating supplies himself. Many of these supplies have been delivered to local hospitals struggling to keep up.

Many schools are working on putting together donation drives to support families who have lost jobs during the crisis, as well as collection drives to support food banks and shelters that have struggled with supplies.    Senior students from Iona Prep have been presenting their advocacy projects and websites through video conferences. An example of one of the projects on statelessness in Dominica can be viewed here.

In Kenya, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator Johnstone Shisanya reports that the work of the Edmund Rice Advocacy Network (ERAN) is on hold as its projects with communities and schools all rely on bringing people together for capacity building. However what ERAN has  done since the first case was reported was to work a partner organisation Radio Domus FM which covers a 25 km range, to explain the nature of the Corona virus and the safety measures to take. During the program people called in with questions and information was provided especially for those who could not access updates via TV or Smart phone,  including sharing the Government toll free number if someone feels unwell.

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