Across the region where Lahash works, the pandemic response measures vary by country, by district, by county, and by city and town. Governments and local jurisdictions are employing a variety of approaches in response to the rising and falling of Covid cases as well as the persistent economic challenges that have taken hold as a result. Some areas are beginning to see vaccine availability, but at nowhere near the scale of larger wealthier countries. Year two of the pandemic is different than year one, yet still presents great challenges.

We continue to be inspired by our ministry partners and their unwavering commitment to serve vulnerable children and families in this ever-changing landscape. By keeping up with local guidelines and best practices, and by working with local authorities when needed, they have done all they can to ensure that the children in their programs are safe and receiving the help they need. In Arusha, Tanzania, this has meant helping to escort children with albinism back to their families when boarding schools closed, and escorting them back to school when it reopened. In Kigali, Rwanda, this has meant getting permission from local officials to move around in a city under strict lockdown in order to deliver emergency food supplies to families near starvation. In Shinyanga, Tanzania, this has meant altering the set-up of program day activities to allow for socially distanced seating so that the kids can gather safely for teaching, worship, and a meal. At every partner location, it meant distributing the Christmas gifts from generous sponsors and donors to all the very excited kids!

It is with deep gratitude to God that we are able to report that the coronavirus itself has so far been prevented from gaining traction among the extremely vulnerable population of kids, families, caregivers, and program staff connected to Lahash. Case numbers have been low, and all have recovered. We are so thankful!

We also see the depth and breadth of the impact in ways we could not have envisioned a year ago. Students have struggled during school closures, some even ending up in harm’s way as the rhythms of life shifted around them. Students have also struggled with the pressure to “catch up” and even complete national exams as schools reopen. Sickness and malnutrition have loomed large, and families have felt the desperation of not knowing where to turn when their former means of earning money, even if it was sporadic at best, dried up completely under Covid containment measures. Program staff have spent more time on foot out in their communities, seeking out the kids out at home to check in on them when program days and other gatherings have not been possible. The needs have been overwhelming, and so has the response of love and care from the global Lahash community.

In Rwanda, delivering food directly to families has been critical during times when larger program gatherings couldn’t happen.
Masks and extra distance during sponsorship program gatherings help keep kids safe as they study and learn.
Our partners at Albino Peacemakers made sure the kids they serve had all the supplies they needed to return to boarding school.
In Kenya, Jane (center) has progressed so well in her studies at Nipe Tumaini Children’s Home that she was ready to head to boarding school!
Food distributions like this one at Grace & Healing Ministry in Tanzania have been a lifeline for vulnerable children and families.

Your prayers and generous donations have helped the ministries of Lahash adapt to the widespread changes of the past year. The staff, families, and most importantly the kids have not been abandoned during all the uncertainty and hardships. They have been surrounded and supported, whether from a distance of six feet or from the other side of the world.

We are hopeful that as 2021 goes on, the ongoing effects of the pandemic will ease more and more. It is also possible that there are greater challenges yet to come. We don’t know for sure, but one thing we have seen is that this community is determined to stick together, work together, and hold tight to faith in God as we make it through.

Our thanks to the kids for being brave and working hard. Our thanks to their families and caregivers for staying connected to the programs through it all. Our thanks to every staff member and volunteer at Nipe Tumaini, Path Of Hope, Albino Peacemakers, Grace & Healing Ministry, and ERM-Rwanda for your faithfulness and creative innovation in ministry. Our thanks to the community of child sponsors, financial donors, advocates, prayer-lifters, and volunteers who support Lahash from wherever they are!

All thanks be to God, for the grace, mercy, protection, and provision that holds us all together in Christ!