Recent news reports about the international outbreak of the new coronavirus are raising awareness about the potentially fatal disease COVID-19. As a result, you may be concerned and wondering about the effect of this outbreak on your sponsored child.

Coronavirus Quicklinks:

[Update as of April 9, 2020 at 10:43 a.m. EST]

Around the world, Compassion staff is working hard to provide support to children and families wherever possible. While many child development centres are temporarily closed to group activities, that does not mean all programmatic activities and expenses have stopped. Your monthly support is still vital in this season.

In some cases, partner church staff members are visiting homes to check on the welfare of children and their families. They may be delivering medical supplies, hygiene kits, extra food, water and other resources to help during this time of crisis. For more information, click here to see Frequently Asked Questions.

How is program currently impacted by COVID-19?

Because of government-enforced restrictions in most of the countries where we operate (see below), our church partners are doing home-based programming because they currently can’t have mass gatherings at churches and child development centres. Programming in most countries currently is delivered on a one-to-one or one-to-family basis.

Compassion Centres with government-enforced restrictions

The governments of all the countries where we work have put restrictions and quarantines in place in their national efforts to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Below, you can find the most up-to-date reports from those countries, and how these new guidelines are affecting Compassion programming. Please continue to check back to this page for further updates.

  • Bangladesh — COVID-19 cases have been reported in Bangladesh. To stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government extended a nationwide shutdown until April 14. Dhaka is currently on lockdown with a high number of cases being reported. All schools, colleges and educational institutions are closed. All Compassion group activities are on hold. Compassion Bangladesh staff and partner churches are maintaining phone contact as much as possible and were recently able to send hygiene supplies to some beneficiary families.
  • Bolivia — The country is on quarantine and schools are closed until April 15. Individuals can only leave home once a week to buy food in the morning, and no one can leave home on the weekends. Compassion Bolivia staff held a Fasting and Prayer Day to pray for those affected by the pandemic. All Compassion child development centres have put group activities on hold. The government decree includes some leeway for people working to mobilize resources for the most vulnerable populations, so a few partner churches are permitted to provide food and hygiene supplies to beneficiaries and their families. Partner church staff is checking in with families via phone and providing instructions on hygiene and disease prevention as well as spiritual and emotional support. They have also been able to distribute disease prevention materials to families.
  • Brazil — There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among caregivers of Compassion-assisted children, but no cases among children. All schools are closed until April 30. All public events are banned and public gathering locations, such as shopping malls and restaurants, are closed. Compassion programs are on hold; however, local workers are making every effort to provide for the basic needs of beneficiaries. Partner churches have begun holding online worship services for the youth. They are maintaining phone contact with families and are providing Bible stories, lessons and prayers to children and families.
  • Burkina Faso There have been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in staff, volunteers and caregivers. The government is instructing citizens to follow hygiene and sanitation measures to mitigate spread of the virus. Schools, professional training centres and universities are closed until April 14, and public gatherings of more than 50 people are restricted. A curfew is in place from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Churches and religious congregations have suspended services until April 16. All Compassion partner churches have put child development centre group activities on hold, but they continue regular child protection oversight and health care support.
  • Colombia — There are confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country, and many areas have reported community spread. The government declared a national state of emergency. Borders are closed to non-citizens until May 30, and all educational institutions are closed until April 20. All Compassion centre activities are on hold. Partner churches have provided hygiene training and food kits to select high-risk families and continue to monitor situations for child protection.
  • Dominican Republic — There is one presumptive case of COVID-19 in a staff member; that person’s closest contacts have tested negative for the virus. The country is under quarantine until May 8. Schools, parks and commercial businesses (except for pharmacies and supermarkets) are closed, public events are banned, and air travel is canceled. There is a curfew from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. All Compassion child development centers are closed. Compassion health specialists have been providing partner churches with guidance and educational materials, and partner church staff is providing physical and emotional support to families while complying with guidelines.
  • Ecuador — There have been 17 presumptive cases of COVID-19 among staff, volunteers and caregivers. The government declared a national health emergency and put prevention measures in place limiting entry into the country, restricting residents’ movement, forbidding large group gatherings, closing schools and some businesses, and improving sanitation of public places. There is a nationwide curfew from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m. All frontline church partners, and therefore all Compassion center activities, are closed. The staff continues to provide emotional and spiritual support by making regular phone calls to families. They are working on ways to distribute groceries to families, while complying with local guidelines. Some partner churches have been able to hold online worship services and prayer meetings.
  • El Salvador — There are currently active cases of coronavirus in the country. El Salvador issued a mandatory nationwide quarantine in early March, as the president acknowledged that the health system is not equipped to handle an epidemic of COVID-19. All educational activities are suspended, and Compassion programming is on hold. Partner churches are supporting the most vulnerable families with food and available medicine. Partner churches are also developing tutoring materials online so children can continue learning from home.
  • Ethiopia — There is an increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in the country. Schools in Ethiopia are closed, and all university students have been advised to return home to their families. Large gatherings are banned, religious gatherings are limited, and precautionary measures are in place for public transportation. All child development centres have stopped group activities, meetings and training. Partner churches are maintaining phone contact with families, communicating prevention measures and distributing sanitation items.
  • Ghana — The country is under partial lockdown due to increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. The government issued a directive suspending all public gatherings of more than 25 people, closing all schools and encouraging social distancing. All borders are closed. All frontline church partners are closed, and therefore all Compassion centre activities are on hold. The centres will handle emergency health care, child protection interventions and disaster response for beneficiaries, as needed.
  • Guatemala — The Guatemalan government declared a state of calamity and a curfew is in affect from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. until April 12. Large public events and gatherings are prohibited. Closed are schools, churches, sports activities, shopping malls, restaurants, and public and private organizations, except for pharmacies and hospitals. As a result, all Compassion child development centres are closed. Frontline church partners are monitoring the health and welfare of beneficiaries through phone calls. Staff is working within curfew guidelines to deliver food where needed.
  • Haiti — There is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in one of our partner churches; the rest of the staff has tested negative for the virus. Schools, universities, places of worship and industrial areas are closed until further notice. The borders and airports are closed to passengers but open for transportation of goods. The extreme poverty in the country makes it difficult for Compassion-assisted families to respect confinement guidelines as they must go to crowded open-air markets for food and supplies. Markets and buses are reportedly full of people despite the warnings. All Compassion child development centres have stopped group program activities until April 13. Partner church workers are attempting to keep in touch with beneficiaries through phone calls and texts and are bringing food supplies to the most vulnerable when possible.
  • Honduras — There are have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in among beneficiaries and caregivers. All borders are closed and a national quarantine is in place until April 12. Public gatherings (sports, cultural, social and religious events, etc.) and public transportation are suspended and most businesses are closed. Only supermarkets, banks and hospitals are open. Accordingly, all Compassion programs and activities are canceled. Program staff is delivering food and hygiene kits to the most vulnerable families and reinforcing hygiene and safety measures with caregivers. All staff who are delivering food have undergone a training by the local government on safety measures.
  • Indonesia/East Indonesia — There is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in a caregiver and one presumptive case in a partner church staff member. The government is conducting rapid tests to map out the spread of the virus. Compassion child development centres are closed until May 29. Workers are staying in contact with beneficiaries online and distributing food and sanitary supplies as they are able. Compassion health specialists are providing videos and flyers on disease prevention and hygiene.
  • Kenya — There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with the bulk reported in Nairobi. Social distancing measures have been implemented and public gatherings are banned. All institutions of learning are closed indefinitely. A curfew is in effect from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. All Compassion group activities, including weekly child programs, caregiver meetings and group trainings, are on hold. Compassion Kenya is providing the centres with information about prevention of the coronavirus and how to respond if children are affected. Frontline church partners are continuing child protection measures and health care support as needed.
  • Mexico — Mexico has reported active cases of COVID-19. The government declared a health emergency, and schools are closed until April 30. Public gatherings are banned. All Compassion child development centres have put group program activities on hold. Some centres are providing nutritional support to the most vulnerable children.
  • Nicaragua — Nicaragua has reported active cases of the coronavirus. The country is under an epidemiological alert and has put preventive measures in place. Compassion Nicaragua staff participated in a World Health Organization orientation about prevention of virus spread. Child development centres are not holding group meetings or activities. In just two weeks staff delivered more than 9,500 food packs to beneficiaries and their families.
  • Peru — Mandatory self-isolation and social distancing are in effect through April 12. All Compassion frontline church partners have put children’s and youths’ activities on hold. The national staff and church partners are monitoring the children and families that are most vulnerable due to extreme poverty, possible abuse or health complications. Church workers are working closely with local authorities to deliver food to families. There is also a plan in place to deliver school kits, including notebooks and other supplies, throughout April and May as schools move to online platforms. Tutors and pastors are providing “virtual” counselling as needed to beneficiaries and caregivers.
  • Philippines — The Philippines has reported active coronavirus cases throughout the country, and the numbers are increasing. The government issued an Enhanced Community Quarantine restricting travel from one city to another. Communities are under quarantine and schools are closed until April 14. Partner churches and child development centres are closed for group activities. Workers from the centres are providing food, relief goods and hygiene packs with alcohol/sanitizer and soap to the most vulnerable families of registered children. Partner churches that are able are holding online worship services for families to attend.
  • Rwanda — Rwanda has registered cases of COVID-19 and has instituted a lockdown. Borders are closed and citizens are banned from leaving home except for essential services such as health care, food shopping and banking. Schools are closed and large gatherings, including sports, social and religious events, are prohibited through April 19. All Compassion child development centres have stopped group activities and meetings. Center workers are communicating with beneficiaries and caregivers by phone where possible. They have been able to provide care and support to the most vulnerable children, including those who are malnourished and have medical issues, and staff is working with local governments to provide food to families. The Compassion Rwanda office is working with local staff to offer counselling support during this difficult season.
  • Sri Lanka —Sri Lanka has reported cases of COVID-19. Social distance measures have been put into place, and residents have been asked to limit travel between cities. A ban has been imposed on all public gatherings, and all schools are closed until April 20. A curfew is in place starting at 6 p.m. nightly. The government has banned all passenger flights and ships from entering the country until further notice, and all postal services in the country have been suspended. Compassion programming is also on hold during this time. Staff has committed to reaching out to families via phone twice a week. They are also working to distribute dry ration packs as they are able under the government guidelines. One partner church has been able to work with the local government to make face masks.
  • Tanzania— All schools, colleges and universities in Tanzania are closed and public gatherings are banned through April 15. Accordingly, group meetings and activities at all Compassion child development centres are canceled through April 15. Staff of Compassion Tanzania and frontline church partners have received instruction on virus prevention measures. Partner churches will continue to provide medical attention and child protection to beneficiaries and families as needed.
  • Thailand — The country is under a state of emergency and has reported increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus. Schools, restaurants and stores (except pharmacies, supermarkets and banks) are closed through April 30. Transportation routes are closed at the discretion of the provincial governors. Compassion child development centres have put group activities on hold. Church partners have distributed soap, sanitizer gels and face masks in some areas. Where possible, workers are keeping in contact with beneficiaries by phone.
  • Togo There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. Under government orders, borders are closed, public meetings of more than 15 people are banned, and schools are closed until April 19. A curfew is in place from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Compassion child development centres are closed. Partner church staff members are taking food packages to the most vulnerable children, monitoring the health of children and families, delivering medical funds in cases of illness, and praying continually. Staff has been encouraged to limit face-to-face visits when possible for their own safety, and are communicating with families via phone and video calls.
  • Uganda Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Uganda, and the country is on lockdown until April 14. The government directed all mass gatherings to stop and all churches and schools to close. A curfew is in place from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. All public transportation has been suspended and nonessential businesses are closed. Compassion child development centres have discontinued group activities through April 30. The centres are open only for one-to-one interaction with children and caregivers on an emergency basis. Partner church staff are visiting homes of beneficiaries only when absolutely necessary, including assisting with medical needs and child protection. Emergency needs are addressed with the approval of local governments and in compliance with all national guidelines.

Please rest assured that our staff are working hard to provide support wherever possible. While the program activities cannot happen in groups at the churches, staff will continue to keep in touch with the children and attend to health issues as they are able. The main goal during the program suspension is to keep the children safe and protected.

How does Compassion’s program work to prevent disease?

We are grateful to report that staff at Compassion centres around the globe already actively teach children about hygiene and disease prevention — especially hand-washing! As Public Health Canada outlines, this is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other similar viruses.

Access to clean, running water is a key factor in disease prevention. Alongside our local church partners, Compassion is a leader in providing clean water to communities around the world.

Travel suspension

Read our full list of FAQs around how our travel suspension impacts trips and visits.

Our staff, both at Compassion Canada and around the world, are closely monitoring developments. Our top priority is preventing the transmission of the coronavirus among the children we serve.

For this reason, we are currently suspending all nonessential travel to our frontline church partners in an effort to do everything we can to limit the additional spread of the virus and reduce strain on the already-taxed medical systems in the countries we serve.

How does the travel suspension affect children in our program?

One of the strengths of our child development program is that our local church partners directly implement the program in their local communities. They are uniquely positioned to provide support and do not depend on our ability to travel in order to ensure children and their families receive the love and care they need.

Canada Office – Details

We are closely following national and provincial guidelines pertaining to community-based measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and Public Health’s guidelines around large group events in Canada.

Because the conditions are changing each day, we recommend that staff, volunteers and concerned sponsors visit the Government of Canada’s Public Health website.

You can also go to the World Health Organization’s website (www.who.int). The WHO website has a section called “Your questions answered,” where they answer the most commonly asked questions about coronavirus.

Measures we’ve taken in response to Public Health’s Recommendations

  • As of Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. we no longer have any staff in our London Office until the mandatory closure of non-essential workplaces is lifted by the Province of Ontario.
  • Staff are being directed to stay home and self-isolate if they have been in contact with any confirmed cases or at any indication of illness. 
  • All work-related domestic travel has been suspended until further notice. 
  • All international trips and visits are suspended until further notice.  
  • All events have been suspended until further notice. 

How Can I pray?

As an organization we are responding prayerfully and prudently and we invite you to pray with us. We are closely monitoring the spread of the virus and have put together a Response Team so that we can respond quickly to the evolving situation.

We are committed to approaching our response prayerfully, with faith in God, by following Public Health’s recommendations and mandates, and through the counsel of a strong team.

Ways to pray

Viruses of this magnitude can affect all of us, and so we ask that you pray with us for the children, families, churches, employees and sponsors already affected by this outbreak. Please join us in praying for:

  • Protection from the virus for all children registered with Compassion and their families.
  • Health and safety for all of our staff in the international and national offices.
  • Children longing for a sponsor to be encouraged, loved and cared for during this long wait.
  • Sponsors and their families who have been impacted by the virus.
  • View our extensive prayer guide

God bless you for your care and concern for his children living in extreme poverty. And thank you for keeping them in your prayers.

Remember: God Is Our Refuge and Strength

In all of the worry, let’s remember to turn our eyes to God for strength and comfort. Let’s remember to keep encouraging one another and holding fast to God’s truth.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Written by: Compassion Canada