Coronavirus Relief: News From A Global Gathering!

We’ve all learned some new terms during this pandemic, one of them being “Zoom fatigue.” Having meetings and gatherings online can certainly be tiring. But last week the Lahash staff and ministry partners in East Africa had the opposite experience. It was uplifting and energizing to hold our first online gathering with all the U.S. staff, East Africa staff, and ministry partners participating together from various countries and locations! And everyone’s internet connection was good! Although there were some difficult stories to share, it was very encouraging to be together and hear updates from all the locations where Lahash is serving. Enjoy the highlights below!

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

In June and July, our global Lahash community answered the call to Stand Together with our brothers and sisters in East Africa, and nearly $29,000 was raised for the Lahash Coronavirus Relief Fund. The first installment of those funds has already been distributed to our partners, and they all expressed such appreciation and relief to have that support for the kids and families they serve. Here are some of the comments they shared:

We are grateful to Lahash International for your dedication and for raising money specifically for the families in our community in these challenging times. It is very helpful. People appreciate it. Lahash, thank you so much for your guidance during this process. Thank you so much. – Louis Masengesho at ERM-Rwanda
We would like to thank Lahash for supporting us. We really thank you. May God bless you. – Kighosha Imanyi at Grace & Healing Ministry
We thank you for your prayers that you have been praying for us in this hard time. And we have been praying for you. Our trust is in God and God is with us. His promise to us is that we ask and he will answer us and do great things. And still, we are standing on that. – Sister Martha Mganga at Albino Peacemakers
I want to thank the Lahash team for the support you have shown and given to all of the partners in East Africa. You have proven to be true partners and we really want to thank you. It is not easy when you are trying to raise funds. Just for the sake of seeing what we are doing here, you are supporting it. So thank you so much. – Benson Mungai at Nipe Tumaini
As a program, we want to be thankful for the support we are receiving from Lahash. Our program is moving very well and we are trying to do our best to support the children, especially working on their current needs. And thinking ahead, we are also coming up with more ideas to help these kids in their future. – Donald Nyakyema at Path Of Hope

Consistent Concerns

All our partners shared the sobering impact that coronavirus containment measures have had on vulnerable families. Day labor jobs, piece work, and small businesses like selling fruit or vegetables in markets have nearly ceased to exist. This leaves families who were already struggling to put food on the table in even worse circumstances. Children have lost weight, families have been extremely stressed, medical needs have gone unaddressed, and rent payments have been missed.

Our partners also realized in their assessments that there was a lack of understanding among most families of what the coronavirus is and how to prevent its spread. They have been educating people on what symptoms to watch for and what precautions are the most important to take. They are also distributing masks and explaining how to use them safely.

Unique Undertakings

Although our partners’ reports shared much in common, their ministries are all unique and therefore so are their responses to the pandemic. For Albino Peacemakers, it was extremely challenging to get all the children into safe living situations when their boarding schools closed, and the next challenge was to re-gather them all safely when the schools re-opened. They are relieved to have the children back at school, as many of the children developed health issues that need careful follow-up.

Kids served by Albino Peacemakers show off their new masks as they return to boarding school.

At Nipe Tumaini in Kenya, the children live on site and have an abundance of food grown on the farm. Schools in Kenya remain closed, including Nipe Tumaini Academy, which serves children from the surrounding area as well. Nipe Tumaini has been doing what they can to offer food assistance to the families of those students, all of whom are subsistence farmers or day laborers and are struggling with hunger. Benson shared his gratitude for their recent good harvests on the farm which have given them surplus that can be shared with others in need.

Joseph helps harvest avocados at Nipe Tumaini

In Rwanda, the lockdown measures have been very strict and have contained the virus well, but our ministry partners there have found families going full days without a meal. One family broke down in tears when the ministry staff arrived, as they had not eaten in three days and had no idea what to do. Local officials have been very lenient with granting our ministry partners permission to move around town making their food deliveries, as they know there are families suffering greatly.

Louis helps deliver food to a family supported by ERM-Rwanda.

Pandemic Prayers

Praise God that up to this point there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the children and families served by Lahash! We pray this continues to be so! Here are the specific prayer requests shared by each of our partners:

Path Of Hope (Tanzania) – Pray for the new church and ministry leaders who recently began their new posts. Leadership transition coinciding with the pandemic is challenging. Pray also for the kids to adjust to the new protocols at school and to be able to keep up with the accelerated pace of study as teachers attempt to make up for lost time.

Grace & Healing Ministry (Tanzania) – They are seeing a lot of weight loss and some medical needs among the kids, which is worrisome. Pray for safety and good health for the children as they return to school and as Grace & Healing Ministry works to resume Sponsorship Program activities for a large number of kids with health precautions in place.

Albino Peacemakers (Tanzania) – Most of the AP children are quite young, in lower elementary grades. With their schools attempting to catch everyone up academically, the little ones are struggling with the longer hours and higher expectations. Pray for the AP staff as they interact with school staff and advocate for the children’s developmental and educational needs.

ERM-Rwanda – Pray specifically for a child in the program who will be undergoing eye surgery soon in an attempt to restore her vision, and for another child who lost her mother during the strictest phase of the lockdown, and the family was not allowed to gather for the burial.

Nipe Tumaini (Kenya) –Nipe Tumaini is closed to visitors, which is great for safety and hard for these active and adventurous kids who are missing school, friends, and other people. Pray also for the families nearby who depended on Nipe Tumaini Academy daily for their children’s education and nutritional support before the pandemic and are facing major difficulties now.

It is an honor to partner with these ministry leaders across East Africa, especially as they courageously adjust their ministry models to accommodate the urgent needs of vulnerable kids and families. Thank you to our entire Lahash global community for joining together in prayer and financial support! It is making a huge difference in hundreds of precious lives!