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.

Coronavirus Quicklinks:

[Update as of June 25, 2020 at 10:08 a.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.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, is the centre of the outbreak. The government began easing restrictions in May, reopening factories and other businesses to lessen the economic impact on the country. Dhaka is on continued lockdown, and all schools, colleges and educational institutions are closed until at least September. Masks are mandatory outside the home, and no one is allowed outdoors between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. As typhoon season continues in the region, local officials must deal with potential evacuations and loss of homes in the midst of this pandemic.

All Compassion group activities are on hold. Compassion Bangladesh staff and partner churches have been able to send 40,207 food packs and 42,183 hygiene kits to beneficiary families. Additionally, they have provided medical support to 605 people. They report that many families have no source of income, so they are providing necessary funds to buy daily essentials. Staff members maintain regular contact with children and caregivers through phone calls.

Bolivia

COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising in Bolivia, putting a strain on the medical system and economy. The Bolivian government announced an extension of national quarantine measures through June 30. Social distancing and the use of masks in public places are required, and curfews are in place from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Classes and other public events remain suspended. All borders remain closed and international flights are suspended.

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. Since the crisis began, they have delivered 166,027 food packs and 52,035 hygiene kits to vulnerable children and 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.

Brazil

Brazil has become one of the new epicentres of COVID-19, and cases have now surpassed 1 million. The virus has spread into the Northeast, where most of the country’s poverty exists, and to indigenous territories in the Amazon — all areas with limited medical care. Spikes have also occurred in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. On June 20, Brazil extended its border closure through July 5. 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 97,150 food baskets and 75,573 hygiene kits. Additionally, they have provided medical support to 2,156 people. Partner churches are maintaining phone contact with families and providing Bible stories, video 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.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso continues to see COVID-19 cases rising. 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 centers and universities are closed, but the government has begun a phased reopening, including allowing schools to begin administering exams, and reopening of markets and churches. As of June 3, the countrywide curfew was lifted, except in provinces still under state of emergency.

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 191,843 food packs and 130,258 hygiene kits to families, and continue to work to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention. They have also assisted 7,238 individuals in accessing medical care. Some churches have helped families construct simple washing stations to use at their homes.

Colombia

Colombia continues to experience widespread, ongoing transmission of COVID-19. The government has mandated a national quarantine, which has been extended until July 15. Both domestic and international flights have been suspended. Many hospital ICUs in Santiago are operating at 96%, and local health specialists believe the country’s infections will peak later this summer. All educational institutions are closed until further notice.

All Compassion centre activities are on hold. Partner churches continue to monitor home situations for child protection. They have provided families with vouchers to be used in local markets in areas where they cannot deliver food. Over the past few months they have distributed 141,029 food packs and 104,114 hygiene kits to families and have facilitated medical support for 2,959 individuals. Staff members have also created activity kits for children to do at home, and some centres have held 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 and are making daily calls to check in with children and their families.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic’s infection rate and death toll continue to rise. The Dominican president extended the state of emergency until July 1, and a curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Schools and parks are closed, and public events, including religious services, are banned. Some businesses have begun reopening but with a reduced workforce. Masks are required in all public places.

All Compassion child development centres are closed. Staff members are providing physical and emotional support to families, including the delivery of 53,917 food packs and 6,763 hygiene kits, while complying with guidelines. They are also working with local doctors to facilitate telehealth calls with families. Centres are holding online video classes, and some tutors have recorded short video lessons for children to view at home. Partner churches are providing video sermons, online prayer services and counselling by phone.

Ecuador

Ecuador has confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in all 24 provinces. The majority of confirmed cases have been in Guayaquil, though Quito faced a surge in May, with the city’s government stating on May 14 that more than 80% of the 164 intensive care beds in Quito’s public hospitals were occupied. Beginning May 12, restrictions began to be eased in Ecuador, with workforces beginning a phased reopening and some travel restrictions being lifted. Curfews are still in place, and masks and social distancing are encouraged. Testing remains extremely limited, however, and death tolls indicate that the number of positive cases is higher than reported.

All Compassion frontline church partners and Compassion centres are closed to group activities. Church staff members continue to provide emotional and spiritual support by making regular phone calls to families. They have been able to deliver 109,257 food packs and 9,887 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to 1,628 individuals since the pandemic began, including helping families access telehealth services. Some partner churches have been able to hold online worship services and prayer meetings.

El Salvador

The government of El Salvador has declared a state of national quarantine. All educational activities are suspended, and Compassion programming is on hold. Recently, the country was hit by Tropical Storm Amanda, causing widespread damage and leaving thousands homeless in areas already deeply affected by the coronavirus.

Compassion partner churches are supporting vulnerable families with food and available medicine and developing online tutoring materials so children can continue learning from home. To date, Compassion El Salvador has been able to distribute 91,305 food packs and 49,664 hygiene kits and to provide medical support to 8,756 individuals. 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. Some centre staff members have been able to arrange small, virtual birthday celebrations for children.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia responded quickly to COVID-19, and while the number of fatalities remains low, the country recorded its highest daily increase of cases in June. The country remains 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. In addition to the pandemic, the people of Ethiopia are dealing with locust swarms that threaten many families’ crops.

All Compassion child development centres have stopped group activities, meetings and training. Partner church staff members in Ethiopia have distributed 165,840 food packs and 167,240 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to 4,025 individuals. 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 across the nation have working hand-washing facilities for children, families and the community to access.

Ghana

The government of Ghana has begun to lift lockdowns in some larger cities, and some schools will reopen for final-year students to take exams. Social distancing is being encouraged as the number of positive cases still continues to rise, and public gatherings are limited to 100 people. All borders remain closed. Beginning in June religious services began taking place with 25% attendance, with a maximum of 100 people.

All Compassion frontline church partners are closed, and therefore many activities are on hold. Some churches have been able to hold small gatherings of five people and conduct home visits while following social distancing guidelines. Centres continue to handle emergency health care, child protection interventions and disaster response for beneficiaries as needed. So far, they have been able to provide 14,299 food packs and 9,949 hygiene kits, as well as medical support to 5,069 individuals. 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.

Guatemala

As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, Guatemala remains on lockdown. Many in the country have lost their jobs, and malnutrition is on the rise amid food shortages and increased prices. A curfew is in place from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., and 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. All individuals must wear masks in public spaces.

As a result, all Compassion child development centres are closed. Frontline church partners have worked within curfew guidelines to deliver 139,190 food packs and 41,560 hygiene kits to children and their families. Additionally, they have facilitated medical support for 1,842 individuals. Staff members continue to reach out to children and their families through regular phone calls, and often pray with caregivers and children during these times. They have also distributed art kits and children’s magazines.

Haiti

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in all Haitian departments (states). Schools, universities, places of worship and factories are closed until further notice. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and a curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. However, the extreme poverty in the country makes it difficult for Compassion-assisted families to respect confinement guidelines as they must go daily 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 have been able to deliver 87,413 food packs and 69,659 hygiene kits and have provided medical assistance to 4,017 people. Staff members are also working to provide Bible studies and other lessons through phone calls as much as possible. A small number are available each day at the centres to deal with emergencies and in-person needs.

Honduras

The level of coronavirus testing is extremely low in Honduras, making it difficult to get an accurate view of how the country has been affected. The public health system has limited capacity for handling severe cases of COVID-19. 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 hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations are open.

Accordingly, all Compassion programs and activities are canceled. Program staff members have delivered 46,839 food packs and 19,840 hygiene kits and are reinforcing hygiene and safety measures with caregivers. They have also been able to facilitate medical support for 1,032 people since the quarantine began. 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/East Indonesia

Indonesia has deployed army troops and police officers to enforce rules on wearing face masks and social distancing as the country begins reopening its economy after its coronavirus lockdown. Schools are temporarily closed, and the government is limiting capacity in public areas, including markets and other businesses. The Indonesian health system is at or beyond capacity, and medical services are limited. Additionally, the country is battling a dengue outbreak, compounding the issues triggered by the pandemic.

Compassion child development centres remain closed. Staff members have created online lessons for children and are beginning to make home visits, in which they check in on families while following social distance guidelines. Center workers are staying in contact with beneficiaries online. Despite strict mobility restrictions, they have managed to distribute emergency supplies, including soap, clean water, vitamins, garden seeds and groceries. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have distributed 285,741 food packs and 260,388 hygiene kits and provided medical support to 15,376 individuals. Compassion health specialists are providing videos and flyers on disease prevention and hygiene.

Kenya

The number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing in Kenya, threatening to overburden the health care system. The ministry of health recently released protocols for home-based isolation and care. Public gatherings are banned, social distancing measures have been implemented. All schools are closed indefinitely. A curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. to 4 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. Food security is an increasing challenge, as many households struggle to buy groceries. We are grateful to report that staff members have delivered 11,523 food packs to vulnerable children and their families. Frontline church partners are continuing child protection measures and health care support as needed.

Mexico

The number of confirmed and suspected cases continues to increase daily in several regions of Mexico, including Mexico City, Tabasco, Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, and Yucatan. Hospital occupancy rates also continue to increase. Health authorities continue to ask people to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. Some states have implemented additional restrictions on public gatherings, transportation and businesses.

All Compassion child development centres have put group program activities on hold. Most centres are distributing food to the families of vulnerable children. All frontline church partners have received flyers on disease prevention and treatment that they can print and distribute in their communities. Staff members have been able to distribute 82,571 food packs and 58,992 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to 3,519 individuals. Some tutors have been able to record lessons that they are sending to beneficiaries so they can learn from home.

Nicaragua

Accurate figures related to the coronavirus in Nicaragua are difficult to come by, and medical professionals indicate that cases and deaths may be underreported. The Nicaraguan government has not imposed any domestic travel restrictions or national quarantine policies, but the country is under an epidemiological alert and has put some preventive measures in place.

Early in the pandemic, Compassion Nicaragua staff participated in a World Health Organization orientation about prevention of virus spread. Child development centres temporarily are not holding group meetings or activities. Since the pandemic began, staff members have distributed 55,147 food packs and 32,888 hygiene kits and provided 1,170 individuals with medical support. Some church partners have been able to provide spiritual content through videos and messaging apps. Staff members have also been able to arrange for telehealth for children who need medical care.

Peru

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Peru, and about 85% of Peru’s ICU beds with ventilators are currently occupied. The country remains under a nationwide state of emergency that includes self-quarantine and closed borders. Peru’s national state of emergency and quarantine measures are extended through June 30. Mandatory curfew hours are from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

All Compassion frontline church partners have put children’s and youths’ activities on hold. The national staff and church partners are monitoring children and families that are vulnerable due to extreme poverty, possible abuse or health complications. Church workers are working closely with local authorities to deliver supplies to families and have been able to distribute 161,319 food packs and 49,125 hygiene kits. Additionally, they have helped 1,370 individuals access medical support during the quarantine. Tutors and pastors are providing virtual counselling as needed to beneficiaries and caregivers.

Philippines

The Philippines is now under Modified General Community Quarantine, which has allowed for some businesses to reopen. However, Cebu City and Talisay City have returned to a stricter quarantine status because of an increase of cases. As typhoon season continues in the region, local governments face potential struggles, including the possibility of having to evacuate people under quarantine. Additionally, an estimated 2.5 million Filipinos have lost their jobs during the coronavirus lockdown.

Compassion 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 relief goods and has been able to distribute 314,674 food packs and 131,302 hygiene kits. Additionally, 16,178 people have been provided medical support during this season. 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.

Rwanda

Rwanda has recently experienced a surge of cases, and sadly announced its first two COVID-19 related deaths in June. Borders remain closed, and schools, places of worship and Compassion centers are closed until September. A curfew is in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and masks must be worn in public at all times. Public and private businesses can resume with essential staff only. Borders remain closed and domestic and international travel are limited to charter flights.

Compassion centre workers are communicating with children and caregivers by phone where possible. They have been able to provide care and support to vulnerable children, including those who are malnourished and have medical issues. Staff is working within local guidelines to distribute supplies and has been able to deliver 73,322 food packs and 100,476 hygiene kits. Additionally, they have helped 4,542 individuals access medical support during the quarantine. 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.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has seen a decrease of cases since implementing a lockdown early into the crisis. Public gatherings are banned and all schools are closed. An island-wide 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. Child development centre workers are 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 have distributed 52,730 food packs and 29,638 hygiene kits and are delivering 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, and another is holding a virtual art competition for the children. Some centres are exploring distance learning as a way to distribute lessons to children online.

Tanzania

The Tanzanian government has not released any data on COVID-19 in Tanzania since April 29, and testing is limited. Given the presumed ongoing community transmission in Dar es Salaam and other locations in Tanzania, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains high. All schools, colleges and universities are currently closed, and public gatherings are banned. There is a risk of health care facilities becoming quickly overwhelmed due to COVID-19, and limited hospital capacity throughout the country could result in dangerous delays for emergency care.

Group meetings and activities at all Compassion child development centres are on hold. Partner churches continue to provide medical attention and child protection to beneficiaries and families as needed. Staff members have been able to distribute 35,356 food packs and 72,967 hygiene kits to families and provide medical support to 3,754 individuals. Some have been able to conduct home visits while carefully maintaining social distancing.

Thailand

Reported cases of COVID-19 in Thailand seem to be declining. The government has announced a continued state of emergency until June 30 to prevent a second wave of the virus. The government has begun easing some restrictions, allowing reopening of some businesses. Social distancing rules remain in effect, and international flights are banned until the end of June.

Compassion child development centres are staying closed to group activities. In some areas workers 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. They have been able to distribute 75,058 food packs and 47,413 hygiene kits to registered children and their families. Where possible, workers are keeping in contact with beneficiaries by phone and occasionally by in-person visits, while maintaining social distancing. Additionally, staff members have developed online resources, including devotionals, for children and families.

Togo

Togo announced that nearly half of those who have tested for positive for COVID-19 in the country have now recovered. The country remains 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 centers are closed.

Compassion’s partner church staff members are taking food packages to vulnerable children, monitoring the health of children and families, delivering medical funds in cases of illness, and praying continually. Staff members have been encouraged to limit face-to-face visits when possible for safety and are communicating with families via phone and video calls. They have been able to safely deliver 104,265 food packs and 117,574 hygiene kits to families, in addition to providing medical support to 6,831 individuals. Some church partners have been able to install hand-washing centres for community use.

Uganda

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Uganda, and the country is on lockdown. Public transportation is operating at half capacity, and mass gatherings have been halted. Churches, schools and nonessential businesses are closed. A curfew is in place from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Face coverings are required in public. Recently, the Ugandan government temporarily opened its borders to thousands of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Refugees will be quarantined for two weeks and tested for COVID-19.

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. Additionally, they have been able to distribute 37,085 food packs and 8,576 hygiene kits to Compassion-assisted families and have provided medical support to 3,249 individuals.

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.

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. 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)

Coronavirus Quicklinks:

Written by: Compassion Canada