Emergency Relief Aid Newsletter
The COVID-19 pandemic, which began last January, has shown no sign of slowing down across the globe. Thanks to excellent prevention and control measures, South Korea has been able to keep the virus infection fairly contained without a comprehensive lockdown. However, most developed nations have taken huge hits to their economies, and developing nations have experienced serious economic devastations that are leading to the collapse of their basic social services. In response, JTS donated $50,000 to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), which were distributed to 12 different agencies operating in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Nepal, four countries that have been especially impacted by the pandemic.
These agencies have long operated as NGOs in their respective countries providing assistance to those living in extreme poverty. Because food shortage is the biggest adversity faced by many of these people, most agencies focused their efforts on delivering 15 to 30 days worth of food and hygiene supplies. We would like to share the reports and pictures that have been sent by these NOGs.
[ADS volunteers carry heavy bags of rice]
Many day laborers in Bangladesh have been facing hunger due to COVID-19. ADS and PBM provided them with essential food items such as rice, oil, potatoes, and salt. They also delivered various hygiene supplies such as soaps and masks. Some of the recipients showed tears of gratitude as they watched volunteers deliver the goods despite the poor road conditions and volunteer shortage.
[AMBA volunteers visit each house to deliver supplies]
[FHSM deliver supplies to families that couldn’t pick them up]
India saw close to 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day at one point. Due to the proliferation of telecommuting practices and city-wide lockdowns, many blue-collar low-income and foreing workers lost their jobs and were forced to move to the more rural areas where the rent it cheaper. The most serious problem they face is their difficulty in obtaining food. Those who cannot provide proof of residency cannot receive any aid from the government, and physically reaching the government offices to receive aid during a lockdown is challenging in and of itself. A total of 6 agencies, including Nagallo COVID Response Team, AMBA, FHSM, ADECOM, YBS, and Manuski Trust, operated all over India to provide assistance. Volunteers from these organizations delivered food and hygiene supplies to remote areas that receive little to no aid from the government. The locals were very happy and thankful. As a women’s rights advocacy group, ADECOM provided counseling support for those who need it in addition to delivering essential supplies.
[Building temporary bathrooms with COVID-19 notice signs provided by KMF]
Myanmar began seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases in Yangon in early October because the earlier cases near the Bangladesh border went largely unreported. KMF visited eight civil war refugee camps and delivered COVID-19 notice signs, soaps, hand sanitizers, mosquito nets, raincoats, and books for children and young adults on topics ranging from sex education to fairy tales. KMF also visited PDO, a Buddhist monastery school in Mandalay, and installed 10 washstands throughout the school and delivered food and hygiene supplies to the students and school officials who are prohibited from going outside the school grounds due to quarantine.
[Two children pick up supplies provided by Bikalpa]
Day workers and people living in shanty towns in Nepal faced great challenges after the lockdown went into effect. The high population density and lack of proper preventive measures made shanty towns especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Volunteers from Bikalpa delivered much needed food items to these towns. CGLF volunteers recall that one of the most worthwhile assistance they provided was delivering supplies to two widows who had no family or relatives to help them.
We are frustrated by the restrictions in our daily lives caused by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. However, those of us in South korea are blessed with sufficient food in our homes. We are saddened by the pain of those in developing countries in Southeast Asia suffering from hunger. We hope to see the end of COVID-19, so the poor do not become poorer. JTS will always be there to aid those in need.