COVID-19 and World Refugee Day: Salvation Army Meeting Needs of Displaced People Internationally

Atlanta, GA: June 20 was the UN’s World Refugee Day. The Salvation Army International held a special screening of Displaced, its new documentary which tells the stories of refugees entering Brazil – particularly those fleeing Venezuela for northern Brazil – and hears from some of the many relief agencies supporting them. Watch the video by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyIHQ/videos/291851592004411/

Refugees, asylum seekers and forcibly-displaced migrants are among the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that there are currently 71 million displaced people around the world, and 134 refugee-hosting countries have reported local transmission of coronavirus. It is in this context that The Salvation Army is stepping in where possible to provide additional support for these individuals who have already suffered enormous hardship.

Venezuelan refugees living in temporary camps and on the streets in Boa Vista, Brazil, have been receiving support from The Salvation Army – working in collaboration with the country’s military, UNHCR and other aid agencies – for two years. With the advent of COVID-19, additional meals and hygiene kits have been distributed from The Salvation Army’s Bridges Project in the city, in order to help those for whom finances are perilously tight. Refugees who used to eke out a living selling water, sweets or snacks in public areas or at road junctions are unable to achieve an income because of restrictions of movement. Additionally, refugees are facing the problem of being evicted from abandoned public buildings that were being used as shelter. The Salvation Army has been helping to register vulnerable people and continues to provide psychosocial monitoring. As well as food, other basic items such as mattresses, fans and gas canisters are being offered.
 
In the south of the country, The Salvation Army’s Centro Integrado João de Paula in Joinville is helping refugees from Haiti and Venezuela who are experiencing difficulties with the economic effects of regulations to manage the spread of coronavirus. Many work in informal jobs that have ceased because of the pandemic, again leaving them without a basic income. Food parcels have been distributed to around 35 vulnerable families, to ensure a reliable source of nutrition. As in Boa Vista, assistance with official paperwork is being offered, along with hygiene and cleaning kits.
 
The challenges of maintaining good hygiene in the context of a refugee camp are considerable. Four thousand families (representing more than 20,000 individuals) being supported by The Salvation Army in the Kyangwali refugee settlement, Uganda, have minimal financial support and are unable to purchase basic supplies. Salvation Army team members, already engaged in a water, sanitation and hygiene initiative in the settlement will provide each person with his or her own bar of soap in order to help prevent the spread of disease. With the cramped conditions on site, any transmission of COVID-19 would be extremely dangerous.

In South Africa, an emergency shelter for homeless people supported by The Salvation Army in Marabastad, Pretoria, since the beginning of the lockdown is specifically for asylum seekers. With winter setting in, and the unusual prospect of snow forecast for Johannesburg, hot meals are an important component of The Salvation Army’s response. The shelter – a former jail – initially planned to accommodate 250 asylum seekers awaiting the correct papers to be legally registered. It is currently assisting 350 men, women and children, including local homeless people.
 
Refugees and other migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, are among those most affected by coronavirus in the region. Many have travelled for hundreds of kilometres from Central America and beyond, to reach the border with the USA where they remain until their plea for asylum can be heard. Most are living in crowded shelters or in makeshift tents on hard ground, so circumstances are harsh. The Salvation Army’s Casa Puerta de Esperanza in the city has been distributing small care packages and cartons of beverages in order to make a difference and provide hope.
 
Migrant populations in the Middle East are receiving food parcels and grocery vouchers. Many laborers from throughout Asia and Africa are brought into the region to work in the field of construction, domestic work or cleaning services. During the pandemic many of them have gone either unpaid or on a partial salary, and are a segment of the population that is constantly being overlooked. The Salvation Army’s region-wide efforts will serve more than 1,500 migrant laborers. In Kuwait, The Salvation Army is working with national embassies and consulates, as well as Kuwait City’s International Community Center. The gift card distribution being coordinated by The Salvation Army gives migrant families access to essential food and hygiene supplies for 30 days at a time. Similar voucher schemes in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates also seek to ensure that migrants have a reliable source of food while economic turmoil means their livelihoods are on hold.
 
Spain has been particularly badly hit with the COVID-19 virus, and the most vulnerable people are immigrants who do not hold the same rights as Spanish citizens. All Salvation Army corps (centers) in the country have developed food distribution programs, with a focus on ensuring those without the right paperwork – and often at risk of exclusion – receive the necessary assistance.
 
In Greece, The Salvation Army’s Omonia and Victoria Square day center, Athens, has reopened with a new, carefully thought-through layout to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and asylum seekers while still ensuring the mandatory social distancing for the safety of the service users and staff. The center is the hub of The Salvation Army’s response to migrants in the city, with three other agencies providing support under the same roof in order to provide wraparound care for those in need. Service users have been sharing their stories of lockdown and looking forward to the ‘new normal’.
 
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International Headquarters

 

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

Salvationists Serve at Atlanta March Against Racism

“The Salvation Army believes that God’s love is all-encompassing and it urges us to reject racism and discrimination. The Bible commands us to ‘be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.’ We are committed to fighting racism wherever it exists and will speak up wherever we encounter it. As we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven, The Salvation Army will work toward a world where all people are loved.” – The Salvation Army Statement on the Death of George Floyd and the Ongoing Protests Across the United States, June 2, 2020.


Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the liberation of African-American slaves at the end of the Civil War, coincided this year with rallies around the country against hate and racism. And amid the signs and banners as thousands marched through downtown Atlanta, Georgia, the crimson-and-blue flags of one group stood out.

“People were asking us, what does ‘Blood and Fire’ mean?” said Captain Ken Argot, corps officer of The Salvation Army Atlanta Temple Corps.

“The flags were a wonderful witness,” Captain Argot said. “They’re a reminder that we’re a marching Army, going into battle, to places where darkness is. They gave us the ability to say, The Salvation Army is not just about providing social services; the theology behind it is we are freed by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit infills us with his passion and fire to do his will.”

About three dozen Salvationists served at the “March on Atlanta” organized by the OneRace Movement on Junetenth – Friday, June 19 – offering bottled water and prayer at a rally and worship service at Centennial Olympic Park. They then joined participants as they peacefully marched about a mile to the Georgia Capitol, where the state legislature was considering a hate-crime bill.

After the turmoil of recent weeks touched off by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis police custody, “we knew we needed to respond,” Captain Argot said. “To not respond would have been complicit with everything that’s going on. And historically, The Salvation Army has always been on the front line against social injustice.”

The Salvation Army worked with the Atlanta-based Coca Cola Bottling Company-UNITED to acquire more than 14,000 bottles of water at a discounted price.

Joelle Miller, special events coordinator for the Metro Atlanta Command, put together a logistics plan for the park that called for two canteens – from Red Shield Services and the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center – and four tents with tables and water bottle coolers and barrels, as well as personnel to staff them. Officers, soldiers and volunteers from local corps including Atlanta Temple, Atlanta International and Atlanta Peachcrest turned out for the event.

For all, it was an inspiring if exhausting day. Captain Argot arrived at the park to help set up at 6:45 a.m. and did not leave until 4:30 p.m.

“The wonderful thing about this was, it was a true bringing together of Christians from across Atlanta,” Captain Argot said. “It was so positive to see The Salvation Army connecting to other people of faith, taking a stand wherever there’s inequity. People were kneeling and praying, people were confessing to each other, people were listening to each other’s stories – it was really fabulous.”

The conversations started on June 19 continue in corps social media pages, Captain Argot said.

“When we’re all stuck in our corps running programs, I think maybe we’re not aware of what’s happening in our community where we need to take a stand publicly,” he said. Juneteenth “was a great opportunity for us to reawaken The Salvation Army to a social movement to create change. It’s reawakening our commitment to social justice.”

(Shared with permission of The Salvation Army Southern Spirit)

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

Salvation Army COVID-19 Responses Large and Small Continue Thanks to Strategic Partnerships

Atlanta, GA: Around the world, The Salvation Army continues to respond to human needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The nature of the responses varies from location to location, depending on local needs and context. Whether a large-scale feeding program providing food for thousands of people, or a smaller community-based initiative addressing hygiene and sanitation, one thing is consistent: the love and care with which individuals are treated.

In the USA, where one in six of the population was living in poverty even before coronavirus struck, The Salvation Army has served more than 7.7 million prepared meals to community members affected by COVID-19. On top of that, around 2.2 million food boxes have been distributed, with each box representing 20 individual meals. As well as this, the equivalent of more than 1.1 million nights of shelter have been provided, and emotional and/or spiritual care offered on request to more than 687,000 people. (Taken from USA National Statistics Report June 17, 2020). In many states, childcare is being provided for essential frontline workers, showering facilities have been created in major cities such as New York, and young people have been offered virtual programming and ‘at home’ day camp kits to provide meaningful activities during lockdown.
 
A partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church has been particularly fruitful, bringing not just substantial financial support but also vital personnel reinforcements. Teams from both The Salvation Army and LDS Church have been working together in numerous locations across the US, all with the shared aim of meeting human needs with compassion and sensitivity.
 
Major corporations have also generously supported The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response across the US, with financial donations and gifts in kind. Car manufacturer Toyota has granted The Salvation Army $700,000 towards emergency responses in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City. Airlink – a non-profit organisation supported by US aviation and logistics companies – partnered with The Salvation Army in order to provide staff and volunteers with 150,000 facemasks.
 
Ryerson Lundy, a start-up business owner in Evanston, Illinois, gave 100 per cent of profits from her bracelet sales to the local Salvation Army food pantry. Remarkably, the entrepreneur concerned is aged just six years old. ‘Ryerson learned how to make rubber band bracelets a few months ago and she thought starting a business to raise money to help others during COVID would be a good thing to do,’ explains her father, Thackston Lundy. He and his wife, Christy, suggested their daughter consider donating the money to a local organization providing food to those in need during the pandemic. ‘The Evanston food pantry was an obvious choice!’
 
‘We are so grateful to Ryerson and her family for this wonderful gift to The Salvation Army Evanston Corps Food Pantry. It will go a long way in helping the most vulnerable right here in our community,’ responded Captain Mary Kim.
 
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Coca-Cola Company has provided much-needed support to The Salvation Army, which is partnering with other agencies on the Caribbean islands to secure essential food and hygiene support. Hundreds of families and individuals have been affected by economic hardship resulting from the pandemic, and the provision of food, drink and cleaning supplies has been appreciated.
 
Salvation Army colleagues in Antigua benefitted from a share of a donation of 80 dozen eggs, thanks to local producer Hill Valley Farms whose director wanted to ‘give back to the community in need’. The freshly-laid eggs were distributed to vulnerable people on the island, in partnership with the Lions Club of Antigua and other local organizations.
 
Government partnerships have been strategic in The Netherlands where, following campaigning by The Salvation Army and other organizations at the commencement of the coronavirus crisis, a commitment to spending more than 200 million Euros on additional sheltering for homeless people has been made. A further agreement for 10,000 extra places for homeless people to live will be realised by January 2022. Dutch society has also helped The Salvation Army through the donation of hygiene kits for distribution among the homeless community. As well as this, partnerships with tech companies have enabled Salvation Army personnel to provide tablet computers to many of its service users from difficult family backgrounds – particularly young adults and children. This technology is enabling them to remain in touch and facilitating continued learning during a period in which education has substantially moved online.
 
The Salvation Army in Thailand has received a formal letter of appreciation from the Royal Thai Army. The team tasked with establishing The Salvation Army in the country has been busy supporting the military to care for those under quarantine regulations in the northern city of Chiang Mai. Priorities have included providing food, water, infection control supplies and equipment, as well as other support to COVID-19 sufferers and first responders in the armed forces.
 
Elsewhere in south-east Asia, Salvation Army teams from Manila and Quezon in the Philippines have distributed 550 food packs, water and some sleeping mats to stranded overseas workers at the international airport and nearby Villamor Golf Club. These people are waiting for their scheduled journeys to their home provinces and are temporarily sheltering outside the airport and at the golf club due to cancelled flights.
 
Cumulatively, emergency projects supported by The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services team in London, UK, have now provided more than two million meals to people in need around the world. This has been made possible through the generous support of The Salvation Army’s territories around the world, by personal donations and by corporate grants. The Salvation Army’s World Service Office in Alexandria, Virginia, reports that ‘The UPS and FedEx Foundations have provided funding for nearly 30 projects in as many territories’.
 
One newly-resourced undertaking in Monrovia, Liberia, seeks to ameliorate the effects of coronavirus on the community right next to its command headquarters. Despite a curfew and prohibition on movement, Salvation Army personnel observed that the number of people on the streets adjacent to its offices was increasing, and that people were setting up stalls to sell produce on the street – there being no other means of them securing sufficient money to subsist.
 
Around 3,200 individuals in the Sinkor neighbourhood will now receive basic food parcels to ensure a reliable source of balanced meals during this time of lockdown, in order to minimise unnecessary social interaction and thereby stem the spread of the disease. Households will also receive soap and buckets to improve access to handwashing facilities.
 
Similar intervention is planned for the Sabatia, Gusii and Sondu communities in Kakamega, Kenya. Around 1,500 people – half of whom live in particularly vulnerable family groups – will receive supplies of maize, beans, rice, sugar and cooking oil.  
 
Major Chris Mulryne, The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services Project and Finance Administrator, says: ‘We are grateful to our partners right around the world who are helping to meet needs on a scale that we have not seen before. Behind the numbers are individual men, women and children who are suffering, and often feeling desperate. It’s our responsibility to serve them in their time of need, and it’s an honour to do so. But we cannot do this on our own – we are indebted to all those who support our work practically and financially. Thank you.’
 
IHQ Communications
International Headquarters

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

The Salvation Army provides over 209K meals to date in Hawaii & Pacific Islands; outreach continues

HONOLULU (June 24, 2020) – The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands today announced they have provided 209,252 meals, beverages and snacks to those in need during the first three months of their emergency response efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic [March 16 to June 22, 2020]. In addition, The Salvation Army has distributed 49,165 food boxes, responded to 18,173 requests for emotional & spiritual care, provided 3,821 clients with financial assistance, and logged 88,381 hours of volunteer, officer, and staff service.

“We are grateful to our communities for their support of those in need across the Pacific during this pandemic,” said Major Jeff Martin, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands. “As our island economies begin to reopen, the need for our services is continuing, as well as the need for monetary donations. Anyone interested in helping, can get more details at Hawaii.SalvationArmy.org. For those in need of help, we also list the food outreach events by island in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan on that site.”

In addition, as the local economies open up, The Salvation Army has begun to reopen portions of their regular operations in the islands per local emergency proclamations and orders, while following CDC guidelines. Here is an update on reopening status by island and by location:

HAWAII

Hawaii

The Salvation Army Hilo Temple Corps Thrift Store [a.k.a. The Sally Shop]

  • 194 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720 – temporarily closed

The Salvation Army Honokaa Corps Thrift Store

  • 45-513 Rickard Pl, Honokaa, HI 96727 – now open
  • Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Donations are accepted during the same hours.

The Salvation Army Kailua-Kona Corps Thrift Store [a.k.a. Ohana Thrift Store]

  • 74-5583 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 – now open 
  • Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5p.m.
  • Donations accepted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kauai

The Salvation Army Hanapepe Corps Thrift Store

  • 4465 Puolo Rd, Hanapepe, HI 96716 – now open
  • Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Limit of two bags or boxes per household.

The Salvation Army Lihue Corps Thrift Store

  • 4182 Hardy St., Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766 – temporarily closed

Oahu

The Salvation Army Kroc Center Hawaii

  • 91-3257 Kualaka’i Parkway, Ewa Beach, HI  96706 – opens June 25

Stage 1 reopening is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, with select member-only services open including Health & Wellness, Aquatic Center, Gymnasium and church services. Performing Arts classes are scheduled to begin on July 6. Operating hours vary and advance reservations are required for most activities. For details, visit kroccenterhawaii.org or call (808) 682-5505.

The Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores

  • 322 Sumner St., Honolulu, HI  96817 – now open
  • 638 Kailua Rd., Kailua, HI  96734 – now open
  • 94-925 Waipahu St., Waipahu, HI  96797 – now open
  • 435 Kilani Ave., Wahiawa, HI  96786 – opens June 26

The Salvation Army’s Family Thrift Stores in Honolulu, Kailua and Waipahu recently reopened and the Wahiawa location is scheduled to reopen Friday, June 26. Hours for all locations are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDC guidelines are being followed for safety. Donations of clothing and household goods are being accepted at the thrift stores and various donation locations around Oahu. For the safety of The Salvation Army Family Thrift Store customers, donated items are held for 72 hours before being placed on the sales floor. For more information, visit satruck.org.

The reopening of stores is an important step toward financial security for the no-fee, residential Adult Rehabilitation Center in Honolulu that is funded by the sale of donated items in The Salvation Army’s Family Thrift Stores. The drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have been without necessary funding for several months. 

Maui

The Salvation Army Kihei Thrift Store

  • 35 Halekuai St, Kihei, HI 96753 – now open
  • Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Salvation Army Lahaina Lighthouse Corps Thrift Store

  • 131 Shaw St, Lahaina, HI 96761 – now open
  • Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

GUAM

The Salvation Army Guam Corps Thrift Store

  • 788 S Marine Corps Dr., #2C, Tamuning, Guam  96913 – now open
  • Hours of operation are Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Donations are currently accepted on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Salvation Army has been providing dozens of opportunities for food each week via 14 locations in Hawaii along with locations in Guam and Saipan. In addition, resilience hubs have been established at The Salvation Army Kahului Corps on Maui and at The Salvation Army Kroc Center Hawaii on Oahu to receive donations of PPE and hygiene supplies, as well as bulk food.

Monetary donations to support the efforts can be made at hawaii.salvationarmy.org or call 808-440-1800.

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About The Salvation Army – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

The Salvation Army – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division covers the state of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands including Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands and The Federated States of Micronesia. The Division offers a wide variety of programs throughout the islands including: adult day health services; affordable senior housing; at-risk youth services and housing; camp & conference center; family stores; food distribution and feeding programs; homeless services; The Kroc Center – Hawaii’s largest community center; preschools & day care services; social services – emergency assistance; substance abuse treatment; and work therapy & rehabilitation services. For more information, visit hawaii.salvationarmy.org, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

My Coronavirus Story: Paul Rajkumar, India Central Territory

Atlanta, GA: Paul Rajkumar, Director of Community Empowerment Projects and Health Development in The Salvation Army’s India Central Territory, explained to Jo Clark (Program Resources Department, International Headquarters) how the territory’s COVID-19 response has benefitted many vulnerable people while also showing the local authorities how The Salvation Army can work in local communities to provide assistance and information:

I am a lifelong Salvationist and a soldier at Bapatla Central Corps in the India Central Territory. I live in Bapatla with my wife, who is a bank worker. Our two sons currently live in London and Hyderabad respectively.
 
I expressed an interest to serve the Army when I was approached by the territorial leadership in June 2019. Since then I have had the privilege of utilizing my training, skills and previous work experience within the corporate and social development sector, and with the state government. 
 
Here in India there was a strict implementation from the end of March of lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. However, quite unexpectedly, I and another volunteer travelled almost 4,000 kilometres in the first six weeks! 
 
I drove these distances to distribute protective and printed materials to Salvation Army corps and also to monitor the distribution of food items to vulnerable individuals and families. The protective materials, consisting of washable face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers, have also been given to police who are out on the highways enforcing the lockdown, and to street sanitation workers who are continuously cleaning and disinfecting roads in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
 
The Salvation Army is the only organization to come forward to help protect people who are trying to manage our public health and safety. The government gratefully acknowledged our efforts by giving official permission for me to travel within the states covered by the India Central Territory. I have been able to travel freely throughout Andhra Pradesh, including the government-designated Red Zones, and in northern Tamil Nadu.
 
The first phase of our ‘Protect Self and Fight Corona’ campaign was quite visible in the communities. We held street plays and skits in public places to raise awareness of the virus and to educate about precautionary measures which everyone could take. We printed and distributed Telugu and Tamil language information leaflets and posters and also shared these with local and state-level authorities, police officers and the Red Cross.
 
With the full cooperation and support of the police, we pasted health advice posters along the main roads and on the walls of marketplaces. Some of the police even stuck the posters on their vehicles and were so excited that they called district media to cover the story!
 
Following the second-phase message to ‘Stay Home and Save Lives’, and the announcement of lockdown, we headed to the highways where we encountered migrant laborers from other states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh trying desperately to get back to their families.
 
After building confidence with people along the highway that we were not the police, we spoke with them to find out their situation, how they were doing and where they were heading. Alongside providing protective materials (such as gloves, hand sanitizers and face masks) we were able to support these vulnerable people on the road with nutritious food – boiled eggs, bananas, curd items, biscuits and water – to sustain them throughout their journey that day.
 
Over the time of lockdown, we have also been able to provide the same support for migrant workers who were stranded in government-organized quarantine relief centers, to other vulnerable individuals (truckers, ragpickers, health and sanitation workers and members of the transgender community) and to families in the communities served by our corps.
 
On 1 June I was engaged by local district administrative authorities to act as a translator for migrant workers and their families in a new relief camp, where they are tested for COVID-19 and provided with medicine. I appreciated the great opportunity to counsel and comfort workers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Odisha, speaking with them in Hindi, which I learned while working in Delhi for 12 years.  
 
Many people have commented that the refreshments we provide, which they can eat gradually throughout the day, are preferable to a one-off meal which would only keep them satisfied for an hour or two. Where it was more appropriate, though, we served 400 migrant workers from northern India with hot cooked food in three different centres in Chennai for 48 days from 1 April. 
 
Washable face masks – stitched initially by the territorial headquarters Women’s Ministries team and some community women in corps, under the leadership of Territorial President of Women’s Ministries (TPWM) Commissioner Prema Wilfred – have been well received by all sections of people, particularly the police and by sanitation workers who can be on duty for many hours, longer than disposable masks can be used for.
 
The masks became in demand by other government department workers, so much so that production expanded to include officers and soldiers in some of the divisions and members of our Community Empowerment Program self-help groups (SHGs). We also sourced masks from commercial companies.
 
Purchasing sewn face masks from SHG members at the same price that we pay other production companies is proving to be a really effective way to help SHG members support themselves, their families and communities, particularly in areas where people live hand-to-mouth from daily waged labor or live with the impacts of leprosy. As at mid-May, SHG members and women’s ministries members had sewn around 4,000 of the 26,000 masks which we distributed.
 
Although I had connections with the government before, this COVID-19 response period has given me the opportunity to explain more to the government about what The Salvation Army is and how it can support their efforts.
 
The government is realizing our ‘reach’ and that, through our local presence and networks, we can connect with many of those whom the authorities are unable to reach. Because of this – and backed up by Territorial Commander, Commissioner Wilfred Varughese giving assurance to the government that all Salvation Army officers and soldiers will uphold all government rules and regulations regarding social distancing and wearing masks – we have been given support and the freedom to move around in our mission to support the most vulnerable.
 
Government personnel have also helped with the coordination of logistics associated with our awareness-raising campaigns and community-level distributions in areas where it was complicated to maintain social distancing. Our relationship with the government has dramatically improved during these weeks and they are giving high recognition to our efforts.
 
I have been impressed at how the officers, soldiers and young people of our territory have really stepped up during this time. People have put any self-interest aside to support me whenever I have visited corps or communities, receiving me openly with hospitality and helping with any house-to-house food distributions.
 
The project funding we received from International Headquarters has inspired our soldiers and officers to contribute whatever they can at a local level. Our territorial leaders too have been leading by example. Seeing videos of our TPWM, other women officers and community women stitching masks, day and night, has stirred others to take up the challenge and the TC has been communicating and motivating us daily, connecting with us and inspiring us to each play our part.
 
Through the humility of such ‘leadership by example’ I can see a paradigm shift occurring in the mindset of Salvationists and friends.
 
Although the travel and the food, face mask and sanitary item collection and distribution have been hot, long and hard work, often on rough roads, I am quite used to such levels of intense travel from my previous work with other international non-governmental organisations whilst responding to floods and other emergencies, so I have viewed this as a great opportunity to serve.
 
‘Reaching the unreached and serving the community’ is my life passion; each day during this lockdown I simply remember how it would be to step into the shoes of the people we are helping, and this keeps me moving forwards. With restrictions only being eased gradually, we will continue our mission to identify and support the people who remain particularly vulnerable in these days.
 
Report by IHQ Communications
International Headquarters

 

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 Response Extends to 120 Countries

Atlanta, GA: Emergency food provision continues to underpin The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response around the globe. Hygiene supplies, health education, temporary accommodation and a broad range of other services are also being provided, subject to particular local needs and circumstances. With *8.3 million coronavirus cases confirmed by the World Health Organization, the pandemic remains a global crisis. In total, The Salvation Army’s response now extends to 120 countries worldwide.

Feeding
A new project in Madagascar seeks to improve nutrition for elderly people, pregnant women, nursing mothers and orphaned children – some of the most at-risk groups. Following approaches by the mayors of Alakamisy and Imerintsiatosika, plans have been developed to distribute three-week supplies of rice, beans and oil. Handwash is also being included in the packs, which will be given to around 400 individuals identified as being in need in these communities in the coming weeks.
 
Food parcels are also being distributed twice a week from The Salvation Army’s center in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Scores of packages of essential food items are being given out at each distribution. The Salvation Army in Cuba is providing a similar service in the major population centers of Havana and Holguin, with more than 1,300 individuals receiving vital supplies so far. Toiletries and cleaning materials are included to support the important hygiene and health messages. Throughout May, The Salvation Army in Suva, Fiji, served up to 1,000 meals each week to help Fijians affected by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The Salvation Army in Brazil is extending its food support programs to a further 2,120 individuals from São Paulo to Recife and Brasília to Porto Alegre. Coordinating with the local social services operations, The Salvation Army will ensure that these extremely vulnerable people – in the favelas and other needy communities – are supported with baskets of food for a two-month period. With schools closed and social service centres working at reduced capacity, many children have lost access to the only cooked meal of the day. As in other locations, cleaning kits will also form part of the distribution, in order to amplify public-health messaging.
 
In Windhoek, Namibia, ‘Ironman’ triathlete Divan du Plooy got involved in The Salvation Army’s efforts to help vulnerable people during lockdown. He thanked members of the public who had assisted the Namibian Triathlon Federation in its efforts to assist needy Namibians during lockdown. The Federation had teamed up with Spar/Checkers Namibia, Food Lovers Market, Farm Windhoek, The Salvation Army and the Namibia Red Cross in an initiative to collect non-perishable food for redistribution to people in need.
 
Du Plooy told The Namibian: ‘I’d like to thank all those people who have assisted us by putting non-perishable items in specially located bins. We have collected more than 300 kg so far that we have given to the various organizations to help needy Namibians.’ 

Health and hygiene
The Salvation Army in The Bahamas found itself as the only source of hand sanitizer in the islands. Following the devastating Hurricane Dorian in August/September 2019, The Salvation Army had arranged shipment of a large quantity of hand sanitizer, 18 pallets of which remained warehoused after all needs were met. Divisional Commander Major Clarence Ingram explains: ‘We were looking at various options on how to give it to facilities that could use it but the volume was more than could be easily managed. When the pandemic began there was a renewed need for hand sanitizer. We contacted the hospital and NEMA [the National Emergency Management Agency], both of which were very happy to receive the sanitizer as it was the only local source in the country.’
 
The Salvation Army in Mongolia has been distributing hygiene packages to vulnerable people, particularly older members of the community. With the support of colleagues in Korea, officers and volunteers have made house-to-house deliveries with the supplies, including at least 500 face masks so far.

In New York City, USA, The Salvation Army is partnering with other agencies to provide two of the three publicly-available free showering facilities in the metropolitan area. A number of these service users have started attending worship meetings at The Salvation Army. Across the US, more than the equivalent of one million nights of accommodation have been provided since the pandemic was declared, in order to help break the cycle of community transmission by facilitating realistic social distancing.
 
The Salvation Army’s hospitals are still in the front line of triaging and treating patients presenting with coronavirus symptoms. For example, the Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, western India, is being used to isolate all COVID-positive individuals in the area. As of 3 June, the hardworking medical staff had cared for 150 coronavirus patients, with 73 being discharged free of the virus. Meanwhile, in the south-east of the country, The Salvation Army’s Catherine Booth Hospital in Nagercoil is providing dentistry service, while adhering to all necessary safety precautions and regulations. Presently, the dental clinic is the only one open in the city.
 
In neighboring Bangladesh, The Salvation Army’s Mirpur Clinic continues to offer a wide range of healthcare services despite the prevalence of COVID-19. Meanwhile, in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, three Salvation Army clinics have just received a donation of personal protective equipment including hazmat suits, face shields and masks which will ensure the staff can continue to provide essential services safely and hygienically.
 
In Japan, The Salvation Army’s main hospital in Tokyo is now coronavirus-free, but enhanced hygiene and biosecurity precautions remain in place so that doctors and nurses can continue to provide extensive medical advice and treatment.

Wraparound care
As some countries carefully relax restrictions on movement, The Salvation Army has been agile in responding to changing needs. In the city of Klaipėda, Lithuania, The Salvation Army’s thrift store has been able to reopen with rigorous hygiene and social distancing measures. This has been done in order to provide a source of affordable clothing to Lithuanians experiencing financial hardship because of the effects of COVID-19.
 
Clothes are an increasingly important part of The Salvation Army’s coronavirus response in Argentina. As the weather begins to change with the advent of the southern hemisphere’s autumn, members of The Salvation Army’s Bariloche Corps (church) have identified the need for clothes – mainly warm coats – to be donated to those in need in their neighborhood. These are being offered alongside their continuing food distributions in the community.
 
In the United Kingdom, at a time when unemployment is increasing at the most rapid rate since records began, The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus service continues to offer telephone and online support to those looking for alternative work or training opportunities. The Salvation Army’s Debt Advice Service is helping thousands of people work out how to pay their next bill. Also, The Salvation Army is continuing to maintain its extensive network of safe houses for victims of modern slavery and is meeting emotional support needs for people who have escaped slavery and now have the additional burden of having to self-isolate.
 
The Salvation Army’s Haus Erna accommodation for homeless men in Vienna, Austria, has been offering additional emotional care for clients concerned about coronavirus. It has also been providing enrichment by organizing an online concert for residents and others connected with The Salvation Army, performed by renowned flautist Matei Ioachimescu.

‘Music connects,’ explains the organization’s Facebook Page, ‘and attachment is exactly what we need in times like this.’ Virtual concert-goers were invited to enjoy their time listening to the talented performer while also thinking about those affected by COVID-19 with the ‘hope that we will come out of this crisis united and strengthened’.
 
IHQ Communications
International Headquarters

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

The Salvation Army of Georgia Pursues Focused COVID-19 Relief

ATLANTA, GEORGIA (June 16, 2020) – The Salvation Army of Georgia continues its vital work to support local communities in the Peach State as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic linger into the summer months. As a result of COVID-19, The Salvation Army is seeing the number of people needing assistance grow well beyond the traditional total normally served during this time of year.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented response challenge for most non-profits – The Salvation Army included. However, a preexisting national presence in every zip code in the U.S., along with historic emergency disaster experience and a generous donor base allowed The Salvation Army to respond in ways others could not. Throughout Georgia, The Salvation Army enhanced services like local food assistance operations, collaborative efforts with community partners, and additional emergency assistance efforts above and beyond the usual scope and pace of normal year-round social services.

Since the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., The Salvation Army of Georgia has provided 140,000 meals, over 210,000 drinks and snacks, and distributed 18,000 food boxes, 6,500 hygiene kits and 6,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items. Additionally during this time, The Salvation Army of Georgia has provided over 70,900 nights of shelter and has conducted 12,400 emotional and spiritual care sessions. Each one of these statistical numbers is a person or family touched with compassion and concern at a time when it’s need it the most.

“Our focus is on serving anyone in need during this unprecedented time,” said Lt. William Mockabee, Divisional Commander for the Georgia Division. “The need is great and we expect the number of people seeking services and assistance will increase as time goes on, especially among those experiencing job layoffs and financial uncertainties.”

Obtaining the additional resources and material to help those in need during the anticipated spike in services is critical. Anyone can partner with The Salvation Army to continue to provide help and hope to community neighbors during these troubling times.

The best way to help is to make a financial contribution at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Monetary donations allow The Salvation Army to immediately meet the specific needs of individuals, families and communities. Donations given in support of COVID-19 provide relief within the donor’s local community unless otherwise specified.

“Thanks to our communities and partners continued generous support, The Salvation Army of Georgia has been helping bring hope and healing to people who find themselves in the midst of an extremely difficult COVID-19 situation,” said Lt. Colonel Mockabee, adding, “We have been helping people in their time of need long before COVID-19 became a deadly national concern, and we will continue doing so long after COVID-19 has passed into history.”

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

My Coronavirus Story: Lieut-Colonels Seth and Janet Appeateng, Rwanda and Burundi

Reaching Out to Support and Encourage:

Lt. Colonels Seth and Janet Appeateng lead The Salvation Army’s Rwanda and Burundi Command. They shared with Jo Clark (Program Resources, International Headquarters) how The Salvation Army in Rwanda has been coping with the changes brought about by the response to COVID-19:
 
Here in Rwanda it is almost three months since we first went into ‘lockdown’ – although since 4 May some restrictions have been lifted. Life hasn’t been easy but at least we have been able to go out to the supermarket or pharmacy for essentials throughout. The lockdown has been effectively policed, with checks being made on the street as to where you are going if you are outside.
 
With restrictions on movement, people who have their own small businesses, and who earn money to buy and eat on a day-to-day basis, have particularly struggled as our time in quarantine has gone on. There are many in the city of Kigali who haven’t been able to work (traders, pikipiki motorbike riders and drivers, etc) but who are also not able to go home to their villages because of the travel restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of the virus.
 
Although for the past few weeks some traders and daily workers have been able to find employment, pikipiki riders still cannot operate, and travel between provinces remains prohibited until 1 June. Masks must be worn at all times, and the number of passengers in public transport vehicles has been reduced as part of prevention measures. This makes it difficult to plan journeys. Our employees are often not able to report to work on time because of these restrictions.
 
We have two corps (churches) in the city and the people in these areas have been continuously asking the corps officers (ministers) for support. This has been difficult for the corps officers who were also struggling themselves and did not have the means to help even those in their immediate communities, despite a deep desire to do so. We are thankful that International Headquarters has been able to support us to access project funding so we have been able to prepare packages of food items for some of the most vulnerable of our locked-down population, especially those within the city communities close to our corps.
 
We have also been able to contact the executive secretaries of local government (those with administrative governing responsibility for sectors and cells) who gave us additional lists of those who are known to be amongst the most vulnerable in their areas.
 
During three days at the end of April we were able to distribute 350 packages of food (containing rice, maize flour, beans and oil) to vulnerable families in Batsinda and Kimironko communities in Gasabo district. In addition to the food we were able to share soap and some COVID-19 educational information flyers in each package. Additional flyers were also given to the government for its awareness efforts.
 
To avoid a large gathering of people, teams of around ten (made up of Salvation Army officers, sector executive staff and community cell leaders in Gasabo District) went from house to house, distributing the packages according to the lists. In a few cases where people couldn’t be reached, the packages were given to the local chief to be distributed. Some also remained to be distributed by corps officers in other communities.
 
Recently we were able to extend our support by supplying hand-washing materials to corps and centers, since we have come to realize that much more awareness is required in terms of sanitation in times like these. As things stand however, our schools will remain closed until September and there is no news concerning when churches will be allowed to reopen for services and other gatherings.
 
We continue to have concern for our officers in the field who, with the lack of tithing income, are struggling to manage and yet also want to serve their communities. In a time when isolation is increasing due to the fear and stigma associated with potentially having the disease, more than anything they desire to visit their comrades as means of encouragement.
 
However, without protection, and under strict quarantine rules, they have not been able to do so.
 
We have been able to reach out to some people with Bible messages and church services via social media and other online platforms (particularly during the Easter period) but Internet connection is limited outside of the city and fewer people now have money to buy mobile phone data to stay connected.
 
In the meantime the telephone continues to be our lifeline, with regular calls to colleagues, staff and corps members enabling us to keep together and to check on how each other is getting on.
 
Report by IHQ Communications
International Headquarters

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

The Salvation Army Rises to the Challenge of Coronavirus Response in Remote Island Communities

Atlanta, GA: Island communities such as Tonga and Samoa may have escaped the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, their remote location and early introduction of travel restrictions meaning no cases* have been recorded. But in many geographically remote locations, The Salvation Army is still providing enhanced services because of the economic side effects of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Meeting human needs in these contexts can be a significant challenge, as The Salvation Army’s Deputy Coordinator of International Emergency Services, Damaris Frick explains: ‘We are often among the early arrivers at the scene of a disaster because we are there already, embedded in communities, working with and respected by village leaders and other local groups. And we are also ready to help because of our strategic focus on disaster preparedness and risk reduction. Preparedness training and activities really pay off once disasters happen.
 
‘Responding to emergencies in island communities can be logistically difficult,’ adds Damaris. ‘Supply chain disruption and transportation are the biggest challenges to overcome, alongside the limited storage facilities in several remote locations. Often, The Salvation Army has quite a small presence in these places, which could be outstripped by demand were it not for careful planning and investing in good relationships with communities and other agencies ahead of any incident.’
 
That building of meaningful relationships is crucial. It’s why The Salvation Army in Apia, Samoa, was gifted 100 boxes of bottled water, children’s books, hand sanitizer and educational material to distribute to families in need. Teams have been able to dispense these items along with food parcels and vouchers. Many Samoan ‘āiga (families) are struggling to make ends meet due to continued unemployment, with many businesses unable to operate. For some, the already hard day-to-day struggle to earn a living has become almost impossible. The Salvation Army has also been caring for its own ‘āiga. In recent weeks, the local team has been kept busy providing hard copies of Bible studies, sermons, children’s activities, newsletters, etc, and visiting the congregation pastorally each week, as there is limited access to the Internet.
 
‘Some of our members have said it’s been years since a pastor has visited them with supplies and they have been so delighted to see us. It’s blessed us as much as it’s blessed them,’ testify the regional leaders Lieut-Colonels Rod and Jenny Carey.
 
In nearby American Samoa, The Salvation Army was able to assist a father and daughter stranded on the island when the only airport was closed. Through a strategic partnership with Airbnb, accommodation was sourced and The Salvation Army has been able to provide ongoing support by providing food parcels and meals during their extended stay.
 
Nine hundred kilometres to the south-west, the Pacific Ocean nation of Tonga has also not recorded a single case of COVID-19. This is a relief for their healthcare system, which would be ill-equipped to manage an outbreak and the resultant strain on their resources.
 
The border closure in March left The Salvation Army’s regional leaders, Captains Kenneth and Catherine Walker – who were in New Zealand for their daughter’s wedding – unable to fly back into the country. Remotely, they maintained communication with the corps officers (church ministers), who were distributing food parcels along with help-packs of soap and hand towels to promote handwashing and general good hygiene practices.
 
‘A number of Tongan families live hand-to-mouth on a weekly basis,’ says Captain Kenneth. ‘Those families who received food parcels were over the moon, simply because they weren’t allowed to go out … having someone turn up with some food was gratefully received.’
 
The Salvation Army’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Centre in Nuku’alofa reopened immediately when permitted. However, the country still has restrictions around the size of gatherings and which locations may open. ‘The Tongan culture is very much a sociable, community-based culture, and so not being allowed to gather or to congregate or to be with family, that’s quite difficult in itself,’ Captain Kenneth explains. However, church services have recently been permitted to resume, with social distancing of 1.5 metres between each person.
 
The remote Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has recorded 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, with two deaths. In the capital, Saipan, The Salvation Army has overcome supply chain challenges and is providing emergency meals and food boxes to the most vulnerable people in the archipelago. As of 20 May, 3,382 prepared meals have been served, along with around 50 food boxes – sufficient supplies in each for at least four meals.
 
In the neighboring Republic of the Marshall Islands, the closure of the international airport has restricted all but essential movement. The Salvation Army, as part of its disaster preparedness operation, is liaising with local, state and federal government partners on how best to meet needs in the widely-dispersed community, with a particular focus on prioritizing continuity of existing emergency feeding programs. Emergency/disaster preparedness training has also recently been undertaken in both Chuuk and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, ensuring that The Salvation Army here, too, is ready to respond as required by local authorities.
 
The Salvation Army in Guam is focused on providing essential food to vulnerable individuals whose situations have become even more untenable in the wake of COVID-19. The island territory has seen 161 cases of the disease so far*, with five deaths believed to be connected to the illness. On its peak day, The Salvation Army served the equivalent of 97 individuals in need, providing vital supplies of food – fruit, vegetables, juice – and non-food items such as diapers. Hygiene supplies, such as body wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste are also being distributed to vulnerable families. Emotional and spiritual care is offered where appropriate. Prior to the pandemic, The Salvation Army was helping to feed an average of 40 Guamanian families each month – about 150 people. By early April, staff were creating food parcels for the same number of people every four days.
 
Here, Salvation Army personnel are also supporting frontline nurses and assistants who are treating sick patients in a healthcare system that has limited capacity. Underscoring the importance of strategic partnerships, The Salvation Army was delighted to receive a generous donation of 200 sacks of rice, 100 cases of canned meat, 20 cases of banana chips and 150 cases of coffee and drinks from island partner Quality Distributors.
 
Speaking from Tiyan, east of the island capital Hagåtña, The Salvation Army’s local leader Major Tom Stambaugh says: ‘We value our partnership with Quality. We asked them for this donation because of the pandemic and they stepped up, and we appreciate that,’ he said.
 
Island communities often have very specific needs because of their isolation. That’s why The Salvation Army in Hawaii, USA, has – as well as meeting human needs – partnered with the Greater Good organisation to ensure a shipment of 26 pallets of animal feed. The organisations are working with the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association (HVMA) to ensure that the food gets delivered to those in most need.
 
Aleisha Swartz, President of the HVMA explains: ‘The Salvation Army was instrumental in coordinating the food delivery from California. It has been delivered to animal shelters and human food service distribution partners on Kauai, Oahu, Māui and Hawaii islands. We will continue to seek support for pet owners in financial distress so that they can continue to care for their family members during this challenging time. We know the importance of the human-animal bond is perhaps more important than ever during this time of social distancing.’
 
Damaris Frick concludes: ‘While some of these smaller-scale responses may be eclipsed by the terrifying statistics in larger countries, it’s important to remember the individual as well as the millions. Every single person affected by this pandemic is known and loved by God. The Salvation Army will continue to meet needs in the most appropriate ways possible in every community in which it serves. We are grateful to our highly-skilled and compassionate personnel, our volunteers, donors, corporate partners and prayer supporters who make our responses possible, whether in London, Lima, Luanda or local villages around the world.’
 
IHQ Communications
International Headquarters
(With thanks to War Cry, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory)

* World Health Organization data as at 26 May 2020

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

My Coronavirus Story: Lieutenant Julia Krasova, St Petersburg, Russia

God Has Opened Doors!

Atlanta, GA: My husband and I have been Salvation Army officers for just eight months. We were commissioned in the summer of 2019 and were appointed as corps officers (church leaders) in St Petersburg, Russia. We came enthusiastically into this beautiful city; we were full of dreams and plans. It has turned out to be the most challenging year of my life!

When we arrived here everything was new for us, and we threw ourselves into arranging the schedule for the spiritual and social programs, including a feeding program for vulnerable people and anti-human trafficking work. We had lots of plans for these programs and then the virus came. Everything we had built depended upon physical human connection. We felt like we had to start all over again!

The first week of self-isolation was really hard; we didn’t know what we could and couldn’t do. No one understood the rules, even those who had been working in social programs for many years. However, the toughest thing was feeling like we had left people without our assistance at a time when they needed it and we wanted to help.

New restrictions came from the government every day. One of the first was that people were not allowed to visit bars or churches. (Although this might seem strange, in times when people want to release stress they do tend to choose either alcohol or church!) So, our center was closed for visitors from 28 March. From this day onwards we had to start looking for new ways to serve God and meet the needs of the people.

Our church congregational programs were the more straightforward; women’s ministry, men’s ministry, Sunday worship and Bible study all went online. This took some getting used to – preaching to a computer screen rather than to a congregation whom you would be able to ‘feel’ as they react to your words; women’s ministry members adjusting to feeling comfortable to chat and share in a virtual Zoom ‘room’ – but most people are now online and on social media and willing to try and learn new things. Those for whom this is just not possible are kept in touch with via phone calls and deliveries of printed-out materials to their homes.

After a short time, we also started to release Sunday school lessons each week online. Our six-year-old daughter, at home because she was unable to attend kindergarten, was the inspiration for us in this. My husband used to work as a designer and I have been learning to edit videos, so between us we have managed to produce something new to serve the 15-or-so children in our corps. In fact, these materials we have now shared online, and they are being used by children in other corps across The Salvation Army’s Russia Command. This has been a real encouragement because it has enabled us to feel more like we are one team. We have shared of our gifts and efforts and other officers have been able to help in different ways.

Our social ministry, however, presented much more of a challenge since this couldn’t just go online. So we had to search for different ways to help those who are the most vulnerable.

We discovered that there are lots of unemployed migrants who became stuck here when the Russian borders closed and are unable to find any daily labour work. All are facing huge debts and rent arrears. These people are scared and desperate. Another group of people who have felt the influence of COVID-19 most strongly are the homeless, since many of the programs from which they received food, clothes and shelter are not able to operate and there is little opportunity to earn any money.

So, we started by contacting the city state administration to talk about these groups and to see if we could help in any way. They were very open to cooperate with us. We were surprised! They explained that, while the government helps many people, some groups (such as those we had identified) fall outside of traditional government protection schemes, so we were given official authorization and were asked to help these people in need.

Our command applied to International Headquarters for some project funding so we could begin to distribute bags of essential food and sanitary items from the beginning of April. We received a list from the government of people in need who had contacted them for help but fell outside of the official protection programs.

Working with our soldiers (Salvation Army members) and volunteers, we have managed to prepare and distribute food and sanitary items throughout the past month. In the same way, we have also been able to cooperate, through the Volunteers’ Headquarters, with a huge non-governmental organization (NGO) to support vulnerable seniors. One man we helped has reached 101 years of age!

Each week we also try, using locally-raised funds, to prepare up to 10 additional bags of food and sanitary items, so we are able to support other people who are in need but do not appear on the lists of either the government or the NGO. During Easter we were also able to crowdfund to add some chocolate eggs and special Easter cake to the bags that went to families with children. These little luxuries brought so much joy!

Still, however, we were concerned for the homeless people in our area, who had been coming to our canteen to eat before the lockdown. We asked the city state administration if we could have permission to re-open. They didn’t grant this permission but rather asked us to help with a shelter which they, the state, had opened to provide full-time self-quarantine for homeless people in lockdown.

Before lockdown this shelter was used to house people overnight but had never been intended as a place which would provide food. The state asked us if we could help so now, along with preparing food to distribute, we also cook up huge pots of soup to feed people staying at the government-run shelter.

A well-known, high quality, bakery chain in the city has also offered its help. At the end of each day, since shops have been able to open for takeaway, we have collected leftover products for distribution to homeless people in the shelter (and to include in our food packages if there is enough). It is so good to have this cooperation and to be able to share such good quality bakery items with some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

At the start of May came a new government decree that every person in St Petersburg must now wear a face mask in public places (before it was simply advisable). Of course, these are almost impossible to buy and, if they can be found, are very expensive. Anticipating this, in recent weeks, our women’s ministry members had started to sew reusable cotton face masks. At the moment we have around six women sewing. We are not able to work particularly fast or to produce great numbers, but there will be enough for our families and for those who are the most in need and not able to make or source their own.

These past few weeks have been incredibly difficult in so many ways, and even now we have no information as to when this lockdown might end, but – in spite of these difficulties – I have come to love this time.

Firstly, I love how people want to cooperate with us, even the government. Secondly, I also love how people have been open to receive spiritual help. People have made contact with us having found our details in the War Cry magazine and online on social media (through VK.com – a Russian equivalent to Facebook), asking for prayer, and participating in online worship, teaching and group Bible studies. People are searching for spiritual food alongside physical food.

Thirdly, I love the way in which our motto ‘soup, soap and salvation’ is really being put into action, as we distribute the first two and have opportunity to talk with people about salvation every single day!

I believe that this time will pass; we will get back to our previous work rhythm, the unemployed will find new jobs and borders will open. But I also believe that the seeds we are planting just now will bear fruit. This gives us inspiration. This is our time for action!

When I think back to that first week of lockdown when we were shocked and sought God, I can now see how God has opened doors that we didn’t even expect could be opened!

Lieutenant Julia was talking to Jo Clark
Program Resources Department
International Headquarters

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org