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AFSC's pandemic response

How donations from our global community are helping communities respond to COVID-19

West Virginia food bank

Beginning in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, AFSC staff, volunteers, and community partners moved rapidly to organize initiatives and meet rising needs. We have been moved by the generous response of all who have donated to support these efforts. 

Here are some of the projects made possible through those gifts: 

Farm to Food Bank, New Mexico 

Farmers who trained with AFSC’s sustainable farming program were telling us: “I have not made one sale this week. My food might rot in the field.” At the same time, staff at the state’s largest foodbank were seeing a 40% drop in food donations from grocery stores–just as thousands more people were becoming unemployed. 

We are now supporting farmers in buying seed and other supplies–and in return, they are donating a share of their crop to area food banks. Thank you for helping us keep small businesses afloat and get fresh, nutritious food to people who need it. 

Migrant caravan support, Latin America 

Last January, a caravan of migrants left Honduras and started traveling north to seek asylum in the U.S. As they attempted to cross into Mexico, they were met with tear gas and violent immigration enforcement. Some were deported back to the dire conditions they fled, and many others were detained indefinitely in inhumane conditions. We launched an emergency response to support them–and then the pandemic came.  

Thank you for helping us provide food, water, and other basic supplies to migrants, including the elderly, people with health conditions, and pregnant women; advocate for the release of those in detention; and work to improve conditions in migrant shelters. 

Rapid Response, West Virginia 

AFSC has played a key role in expanding free school breakfast and lunch to children statewide in West Virginia. But with schools closed and stay-at-home orders in place, many children, seniors, and other West Virginians were at risk of going hungry. 

We mobilized quickly to form Rapid Response WV, a network of organizations like AFSC and community members who are working together to purchase and deliver food and hygienic supplies to people in need. We are now reaching hundreds of families with the help of over 300 volunteers.  

Protective gear for health care workers; Zimbabwe, Jordan 

In Zimbabwe and in Jordan (especially in poor, densely populated areas where Syrian refugees tend to live), doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, and other frontline health care workers are frequently being asked to treat patients without adequate supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). From reusable N95 and medical/surgical masks to goggles, gowns, hand sanitizer, medical gloves, and infrared thermometers, supplies are urgently needed to ensure workers are protected and people who are ill can get the treatment they need.

AFSC is working closely with the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights and other local partners to procure and distribute PPE to area hospitals. We are also working in partnership with the Jordan Paramedic Society to distribute PPE to first line health care workers there.  

Preventing evictions and foreclosures, Georgia 

For nearly a decade, AFSC’s Atlanta Economic Justice Program has worked with renters and homeowners to self-organize to defend against evictions, preserve affordable housing, and oppose gentrification. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with the biggest housing struggle of our lifetime. 

After winning a pause on evictions in mid-March, we partnered with the Housing Justice League and over a dozen other organizations to launch a statewide COVID-19 Housing Emergency Hotline (404-946-9953) to directly assist those suffering a housing emergency. With your support, we’ve trained over 100 volunteers who have fielded more than 600 calls–and helped many people negotiate arrangements to stay in their homes. 

Hygiene kits for Palestinian elders, Middle East 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached Palestine, where hundreds of people living under Israeli occupation have difficulty accessing health care and essential supplies–including seniors living in poverty in Gaza and the West Bank.  

In response, AFSC is distributing kits that include basic health and sanitation supplies, as well as information on how to help slow the spread of the virus. Thanks to supporters like you, we’ve already made deliveries to 250 people, and we hope to reach up to 10 times that number in the weeks ahead. 

Immigrant legal services, New Jersey 

Recent expansion of the U.S. government’s anti-immigrant policies, along with aggressive immigration enforcement, have put more New Jersey immigrants at risk of being separated from their families. Our program provides legal representation in challenging immigration cases, but skyrocketing filing fees are putting immigration status out of reach for many who would otherwise qualify.  

We have identified 15 clients and community members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to pursue their immigration cases due to inability to pay the required fees. Our goal is to cover costs for as many of them as we can, especially for time-sensitive and urgent cases, including people renewing their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

Sharing accurate information about protecting against COVID-19; Somalia, South Sudan

Somalia has only 15 intensive care unit beds in the entire country and depends on humanitarian partners to fill critical gaps in health care services. In South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation and the least developed due to a protracted civil war, the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an “infodemic,” which has created mistrust, stigmatization, and misinformation. In both countries, internally displaced persons (IDPs) often live in crowded conditions in camps and urban settings, where they have poor access to health care, nutrition, and water and sanitation facilities – and are also poorly positioned to protect themselves against COVID-19.

With your support, AFSC is developing radio spots to reach thousands of Somalis and South Sudanese with accurate information about COVID-19, especially in the IDP community. In Somalia, we are also disseminating youth-friendly health posters and partnering with the Ministry of Health to train young students to promote healthy behaviors in their communities.

Raising awareness and providing essential items, Kenya

Despite the efforts by the government to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Kenya faces monumental challenges in containment due to poor health infrastructure, crowded informal settlements where social distancing is not practical, poverty, misinformation, stigmatization of victims, and an economy that was already struggling under huge debts even before the onset of the outbreak. 

In response AFSC’S team in Kenya is raising awareness on measures to prevent the spread of the virus in line with World Health Organization/Ministry of Health guidelines among residents of the Mathare neighborhood in Nairobi and Kakamega. AFSC is also donating sanitizers, soaps, face masks, and water jerriycans to people who need support in Mathare and Kakamega while also working with the Friends World Committee for Consultation in Nairobi to advocate for respect of human rights in enforcing the preventive measures.

Cash assistance to undocumented and low-income families; California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina 

AFSC has a long history of standing with communities facing oppression and fostering the leadership of those most impacted by injustice. As the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic deepen, many of those same communities, including undocumented immigrants, are disproportionately impacted by high unemployment rates, federal policies that exclude them from stimulus programs, and inadequate access to assistance.   

AFSC is working in concert with local partners and coalitions to help undocumented people and other members of the communities we serve meet basic needs through grants for cash assistance. With your support, dozens of families across the country will receive assistance meeting fundamental needs, from food and shelter to protective equipment and medical care.  

Safeguarding partners; Indonesia, Myanmar

AFSC works closely with grassroots partner organizations in both Indonesia and Myanmar to support their goals of building a more peaceful and inclusive society. In both contexts, community members, including local partners, are in need of support to weather the crisis caused by COVID-19.

In response, AFSC is distributing packages of supplies to our partners in Myanmar and supporting local partners in Indonesia in organizing a humanitarian aid response that includes basic foodstuffs and vitamins, medical and hygiene supplies, and other items.

Thank you to everyone has contributed to the AFSC Pandemic Relief Fund. Your generosity is making a difference in communities across the U.S. and around the world. 

Learn more about how we are caring for each other–with advocacy, resources, and community action–in response to COVID-19.