We are deeply saddened that within the global Compassion family, children, family members and staff members of local church partners have passed away from COVID-19. Please pray that God would comfort these affected families and communities they grieve.
Please also continue to pray for those who are impacted by this pandemic. Medical professionals predict the worst may be yet to come for the developing world, which is under-resourced for testing and caring for COVID-19 patients. This means that tracking the full impact on Compassion, particularly the children and families we serve, will be increasingly difficult in the weeks and months to come. We are doing our best to keep you informed of the effect this crisis is having on Compassion’s ministry while also continuing to respect the privacy of children, their families and our local church partners. Thank you for your continued understanding, support and prayers.
We Rise as One
For children living in extreme poverty, everything about COVID-19 is magnified: the risk, the fear, the uncertainty, the life-and-death realities.
But together, we will rise as one to protect the world’s most vulnerable and provide desperately needed food, shelter and hygiene supplies. Their survival depends on it.
[Update as of May 27, 2020 at 4:28 p.m. EST]
How is program currently impacted by COVID-19?
All of the countries where we work are striving to slow the spread of the coronavirus through restrictions on public gatherings or quarantines. Below, you can find the most up-to-date reports from those countries, and how the new guidelines are affecting Compassion programming. Please continue to check back to this page for further updates.
The government extended a nationwide shutdown until May 30 but plans to begin easing restrictions to reopen factories and other businesses to lessen the economic impact on the country. Dhaka is on lockdown with a high number of cases being reported. All schools, colleges and educational institutions are closed until at least September. All Compassion group activities are on hold. Compassion Bangladesh staff and partner churches were recently able to send hygiene supplies and food baskets to some beneficiary families. They report that many families have no source of income, so they are providing necessary funds to buy daily essentials.
Beginning May 11, a “dynamic quarantine” was implemented in some areas, lifting some restrictions on movement and work hours for parts of the country determined to be at medium and low risk for virus transmission. Group activities at all Compassion child development centres remain on hold. Under the updated government regulations, delivery of food is permitted from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, so partner churches are working to provide food, disease prevention materials and hygiene supplies to beneficiaries and their families. They are also checking in with families via phone to provide spiritual and emotional support. Compassion Bolivia has deployed teams of physicians and psychologists to support our frontline church partners.
All states where Compassion works are currently practicing social isolation. Schools 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, including the delivery of food baskets and hygiene materials. Partner churches are maintaining phone contact with families and providing Bible stories, lessons and prayers, as well as care for those struggling mentally and emotionally. They have also launched a child protection campaign on social media and are holding online worship services for youth.
The government is instructing citizens to follow hygiene and sanitation measures to mitigate spread of the virus. All citizens must wear face masks in public. Schools, professional training centres and universities are closed, but the government has begun a phased reopening, including allowing schools to begin administering exams, and re-openings of markets and churches. A curfew is still in place from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. All Compassion partner churches have kept child development centre group activities on hold, but they continue regular child protection oversight and health care support. They have distributed food, soap, masks and hand sanitizer to families, and continue to work to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention. Some churches have helped families construct simple washing stations to use at their homes.
The national quarantine is extended to May 31. Borders are closed to non-citizens, and all educational institutions are closed until further notice. All Compassion centre activities are on hold. Partner churches have provided hygiene training, disease prevention materials and food kits to select high-risk families and continue to monitor situations for child protection. They have provided vouchers to be used in local markets in areas where they cannot deliver food. Staff has also created activity kits for children to do at home, and some centres were recently able to hold virtual birthday celebrations. Additionally, staff and church partners are working to develop online curriculum lessons and devotionals to be shared with registered children and their families.
Schools and parks are closed, public events, including religious services, are banned, and air travel is canceled. Some businesses have begun reopening, but with a reduced workforce. There is a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. through June 1. All Compassion child development centres 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. This includes video sermons, online prayer services and counselling by phone. Tutors have recorded short video lessons for children to view at home. Additionally, church staff is spending time praying for sponsors around the world.
The Compassion Ecuador national office is closed until at least May 31. All frontline church partners and Compassion centres are closed to group activities. Beginning May 12, restrictions began to be eased in Ecuador, with workforces beginning a phased re-opening and some travel restrictions being lifted. Curfews are still in place, and masks and social distancing are encouraged. Church staff members continue to provide emotional and spiritual support by making regular phone calls to families and delivering food and hygiene kits. Some partner churches have been able to hold online worship services and prayer meetings.
The Government of El Salvador has declared that the country is in a state of national quarantine. All educational activities are suspended, and Compassion programming is on hold. Partner churches are supporting the most vulnerable families with food and available medicine and developing tutoring materials online so children can continue learning from home. To date, Compassion El Salvador has been able to distribute nearly 12,000 health kits and food baskets using Disaster Relief funds. They are also providing resources to help families plant home gardens. Compassion El Salvador has shared uplifting messages and public health information for entire communities through local radio.
Ethiopia is under a state of emergency until August. Schools and universities are closed. Large gatherings are banned, and traffic to and from the capital city is restricted. All child development centres have stopped group activities, meetings and training. Partner church staff members are distributing food and sanitation items to families and handling medical emergencies. They have educated families on COVID-19 prevention and care and given their personal contact information to families so they can have quick access if needed. Additionally, staff has ensured that 526 centres have working hand-washing facilities for children, families and the community to access.
The government has begun to lift lockdowns in some larger cities, but schools remain closed and social distancing is being encouraged, as the number of positive cases still continues to rise. All borders remain closed. All frontline church partners are closed, and therefore many activities are on hold. However, the centres are handling emergency health care, child protection interventions and disaster response for beneficiaries as needed. Staff is providing education to beneficiaries and their families on COVID-19 prevention and personal hygiene. Some frontline churches are using innovative ways of continuing to provide lessons through video and phone calls, particularly lessons aimed at teens and young adults.
As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, the country remains on lockdown. 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 working within curfew guidelines to deliver food and hygiene supplies to all beneficiaries.
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. Partner church workers are attempting to keep in touch with beneficiaries safely through phone calls and texts. They bring food supplies to the most vulnerable when possible and provide medical assistance to any beneficiary in need. Staff is also working to provide Bible studies and other lessons through phone calls as much as possible.
All borders are closed and a national quarantine is in place. 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 vulnerable families and reinforcing hygiene and safety measures with caregivers. All who are delivering food have undergone training by the local government on safety measures. Church workers are keeping in touch with families via phone calls and recording video lessons for children.
Indonesia has deployed army troops and police officers to enforce rules on wearing face masks and social distancing, as the country prepares to reopen its economy after its coronavirus lockdown. Compassion child development centres remain closed until at least May 29. Workers are staying in contact with beneficiaries online. They are working within strict mobility restrictions to distribute emergency supplies, including soap, clean water, vitamins and groceries. Staff has created online lessons for children. Compassion health specialists are providing videos and flyers on disease prevention and hygiene.
Social distancing measures have been implemented, and public gatherings are banned. All schools are closed indefinitely. A curfew is in effect from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. The government is working to roll out mass testing to hot spots and county hospitals. 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 is planning a region-by-region reopening, based on the number of local cases. Currently, public gatherings are banned and schools are closed until May 30. All Compassion child development centres have put group program activities on hold. Most centres are distributing food to the most vulnerable children’s families. All frontline church partners have received flyers on disease prevention and treatment that they can print and distribute in their communities. Some tutors have been able to record lessons that they are sending to beneficiaries so they can learn from home.
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 24,000 food packs to beneficiaries and their families. Some church partners have been able to provide spiritual content through videos and messaging apps.
Peru is under a nationwide state of emergency that includes self-quarantine and closed borders. 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. Tutors and pastors are providing “virtual” counselling as needed to beneficiaries and caregivers.
The country is now under General Community Quarantine, which has allowed for some businesses to reopen. Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu will remain under a stricter, modified quarantine until June 1. As typhoon season begins in the region, local government faces potential struggles, including the possibility of having to evacuate people under quarantine. Partner churches and child development centres are still closed for group activities, but some centres are beginning to plan how to meet while following strict health protocols. A limited staff from each centre is working to provide food, relief goods and hygiene packs with alcohol/sanitizer and soap to the most vulnerable families of registered children. Church staff members are providing counselling and making follow-up visits where there are suspected cases of abuse. The centres are providing alternative learning and home-based activities for beneficiaries, including colouring books for children and journals for youths.
Schools, places of worship and Compassion centers are closed until September. A curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and masks must be worn in public at all times 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. Sponsor gifts to children and families are being delivered as electronic cash transfers. The Compassion Rwanda office is working with local staff to offer counselling support during this difficult season.
Public gatherings are banned and all schools are closed. A curfew is in place from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., though it has been relaxed in some regions to allow people to begin to return to work. No passenger flights or ships may enter the country until further notice, and all postal services are suspended. Compassion programming is on hold. Staff has committed to reaching out to families via phone at least once a week, and in some areas they have been able to conduct home visits while obeying social distancing guidelines. They are also working to distribute dry ration packs, seed packets and disease prevention information as they are able under the government guidelines. One partner church has been able to work with the local government to make face masks. At some centres, staff is exploring distance learning so they can distribute lessons to children online.
The Tanzanian government has not released any data on COVID in Tanzania since April 29, and testing is limited. All schools, colleges and universities in Tanzania are currently closed, and public gatherings are banned. Group meetings and activities at all Compassion child development centres are canceled. Partner churches continue to provide medical attention and child protection to beneficiaries and families as needed.
Reported cases of COVID-19 in the country seem to be declining, and the government has begun easing some restrictions, including reopening some businesses. All public gatherings are banned until the end of May. The 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew is in place through May 31. Compassion child development centres have put group activities on hold, though in some areas staff have been able to do home visits and hold group gatherings of under 10, while obeying social distancing guidelines. Church partners are distributing soap, sanitizer gels and face masks in some areas, and some centres have begun making masks and sanitizer. Where possible, workers are keeping in contact with beneficiaries by phone. Additionally, staff has developed online resources, including devotionals, for children and families.
Togo is under a state of emergency through June. Borders are closed, public meetings of more than 15 people are banned, and schools are closed. 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 is communicating with families via phone and video calls. Some church partners have been able to install hand-washing centres for community use.
Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Uganda, and the country is on lockdown. Public transportation and mass gatherings have been halted. Churches, schools and nonessential businesses are closed. A curfew is in place from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Compassion child development centres have discontinued group activities. Partner church staff members are visiting homes of beneficiaries only when absolutely necessary, including assisting with medical needs and child protection. They are sending monetary support to beneficiary families as electronic transfers to mobile phones or in the form of cash to those who must walk to the centre while observing safety measures.
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 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.
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. 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.
Ways to pray:
- 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)