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CUSP Response to COVID-19 in South Africa

While here in the USA we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, our children in South Africa face even greater challenges. Our biggest concern is that Thembelihle and Angels Care schools are now closed until after Easter. In a recent meeting of the CUSP board of directors we decided that our immediate focus should be on helping our partners in South Africa with the basic needs of these children while the schools are closed as well as the immediate future. Primarily, we are requesting donations to supplement the food and medical demands stressing Angels Care Center currently. Angels Care will be the focal point of support while the children are out of school with added feeding programs, food parcels for the most desperate families and special care for higher risk children. We asked Dr. Carolyn Hancock to give us an assessment of what the staff at Angels Care are doing to respond to the pandemic.

For Our Friends at CUSP and CUSP Supporters:

FROM DR. CAROLYN HANCOCK

A special thanks for your relentless work being done by CUSP, your donors and for your ongoing support of both Thembelihle and Angels Care.

The recent gift of $10,000 from CUSP for the feeding program could not come a better time with the crisis we all face with the global pandemic. Every day we hope and pray that the virus will not reach the informal settlements, or if it does (which is probably sadly, inevitable) that the love, care and basic necessities like food, hygiene products etc. we provide will go some way in promoting the mental and physical health of all our children and their families.

This past week, we have stepped up our provisions to include a food parcel for every child who comes to the Centre (Monday – Friday), all 300 – 350 children on a Saturday – the under 5’s where they would normally catch the taxi from, and the older children at the Centre (they gain access a few at a time). We were a little concerned that this would prove difficult as there may be too many arriving at once, but they actually arrived in “batches” of 5 -10 children at a time which is perfect. Next Saturday we plan to start at 7:45 a.m. and run until 10:00 a.m. Doing this we should easily be able to make sure their hands are cleaned and they each receive a food parcel (which our staff are now preparing on a Friday afternoon so it is ready for distribution).

Our nursing sister is providing ongoing lessons to the children on hygiene and what they can do to ensure their health and well-being. Hopefully next week we can issue everyone with a bar of soap along with their food parcel (if we can access the stock). The community caregivers are also identifying key families in the settlement who are in desperate need of food parcels and basic provisions and they will receive a weekly parcel for their family (we have started a database of this so we can keep track of what aid we provide). 

The government has been quite proactive in closing our borders, urging people to stay at home and banning public gatherings greater than 100 (preferably only 50) in the hopes it may assist in “flattening the curve”. We know you are all living under even more extreme circumstances in the USA. We are grateful it is still warm here and everyone is able to keep their houses (even shacks) well ventilated and the laundry clean and dry. All this helps… We are hopeful the government will allow charities which provide social services such as Angels Care to remain open, along with medical centres. 

One initiative we want to continue is providing daily care for our disabled children (4 of them). Just before all our schools were forced to shut, we employed a delightful social auxiliary worker who is very happy to continue caring for them at this time. We can give them access to a daily shower, food and some mental stimulation. We have spoken to their taxi driver and he is willing to fetch them and bring them to the centre Monday – Friday. We are hopeful we will be able to do this as they are extremely “at risk” as with cerebral palsy they are prone to respiratory problems.

In these very uncertain times we are taking each day and week as it comes and will continue to provide aid in what will probably need to be new and creative ways! 

Please pass on our news and sincere appreciation to all who are offering prayers for our children and have donated towards our children through CUSP. We are truly blessed to have you all as partners with us!

With much love and thanks,
Carolyn