We would like to share with you an update of the COVID-19 virus in Nicaragua. On March 26th we had just two confirmed cases and as of April 21st, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua, the current data suggests there have only been 10 cases so far, 6 have recovered, and 2 died. They state there is no local transmission. However, citizens have expressed their concern about the possible local spread of the virus, particularly since many Nicaraguans work in Costa Rica where there are more cases, thus opening the opportunity for more transmission. Unlike most countries in the region where residents are forced to stay at home and keep tight control of quarantine to prevent the COVID-19 spread, Nicaragua continues in normal social activity, and children are expected to attend school normally.
Because we realize the importance of social distancing and proper hygiene, we have been working carefully and relentlessly with the families and the communities we serve with continuous education and by offering them washable face masks. Due to the living conditions of the families, it is even more vital to prevent the spread, as many families live in very close quarters, and most share a bed with other family members, and other issues arise due to poverty such as there may only be one or two towels for the entire family to use and share. Unfortunately, for our families, staying at home is just not an option, or they literally will not be able to survive, and this especially true of those with informal street jobs. Since tourism has been the mainstay for Granadian’s for many years, with both the political crisis and now the virus, the meals we are offering the children may be the only meal they have each day.
In order to support the communities but not promote the transmission of the virus, the EI team continues to look for alternative ways to support the families while staying true to our mission, within the realm of our limited resources. Because of the trust that has formed over the years, the families receive very well the information we offer and they also are willing to be flexible with us during these precarious times. In Granada and other parts of the country, many NGOs have decided to close temporarily to prevent contagious effects of their collaborators and beneficiaries; however, the EI team consciously and unanimously chose to look for alternatives that would allow us to continue serving the students and their families in a safe and responsible manner because the reality is, they need our support more than ever now. For this reason, we use the necessary protections in the middle of this pandemic to serve meals and attend families, and we constantly assess the situation in daily meetings, making adjustments as needed.
Since starting with our COVID-19 emergency plan, many achievements have been realized, in spite of the fact that in the beginning, it seemed almost impossible with so many risks and challenges. The results so far:
The Home Visit Team has temporarily replaced all barrio home visits with phone calls, text messages, and group broadcasting. Over 500 calls have been made thus far, and with these calls, we work continuously on educating parents and children about virus facts and how to prevent getting infected, and the best ways to isolate and seek treatment if infected. Besides this, we also continue to assist them with family challenges and counseling and use this time to encourage parents to get closely involved in their children's education and support them with the assignments we send home.
Over two thousand meals have been served since we started our emergency plan. Each day more than 85 children come for food and homework delivery. We always promote social distancing, hand washing, and provide them with masks to avoid possibly getting infected by COVID-19.
Education packets have been a really good tool to keep our children learning at home in both rural Santa Ana and our Granada barrios. Math and Spanish Homework comes with detailed guides to help parents and children to understand the topics and complete the exercises. On average, 95% of the students are completing and submitting their homework on time.
Family health is being monitored carefully, and we offer them medical support with our partner organizations.
The EI team is fully following WHO and CDC protocols, and we have added extra internal protocols, specific to the situation of the country, and our organization:
The team has agreed to not utilize collective taxis or take public transportation or put themselves in other risky situations.
The entire team has agreed during this period not to attend public gatherings or church services.
Hand washing upon entering is required, as well as frequently throughout the day. The team brings a change of clothes each day to avoid cross-contamination upon leaving the center.
The use of gloves and face masks are mandatory when attending the community or when errands in public.
Surfaces are constantly being cleaned with alcohol.
Social distancing is always being used when possible.
We continue coordinating with other Nicaraguan Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on joint actions so as to not duplicate efforts and discuss the best ways to help during and after the crisis. Our commitment to the students is stronger than ever as we continue to guide them with love, patience, and perseverance. As events develop, we will continue to keep you posted. Thank you for your support, and please note that we are very sensitive to the unique challenges each of you may be facing during this incredible time. We pray that all of our friends around the world stay healthy.
Thank you for your support.
Lisseth, Marcia, and Kathy