As Global Volunteers navigates through the pandemic storm, Global Volunteers CEO Bud Philbrook says he remains “absolutely confident we’ll continue to serve children and families in our partner communities for decades to come.”
By Global Volunteers Co-Founder and CEO Bud Philbrook
We will survive this because our mission is imperative. Because our volunteers and donors are committed. Because our staff is resilient. And because we’ve been through existential challenges before. But, we need your help. Please consider donating a portion of your federal stimulus check to Global Volunteers – to ensure children around the world continue to be cared for during this economically challenging time.
We have applied for a Small Business Emergency Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Loan under the recently enacted CARES Act. I am researching every public and private funding option, and I read every message of support from volunteers.
It will no doubt take us a long time to recover from the economic consequences of this global health emergency. But my optimism rests on the knowledge that our alumni will work with us to restore programs so we can provide desperately needed services to children and families in our partner communities. Our staff worldwide is healthy, and most continue to work from home under total shutdown orders. Our management team remains on top of our program priorities and developments in our partner communities. I’m happy to report that all are ready to resume programs when it’s safe to do so:
- In Ecuador, the borders and airports are closed, and all citizens are ordered to stay home. The two FUNDAC early childhood development centers in Calderón, Quito have been closed since March 13. The staff and teachers continue to communicate with families so that their children have projects to do at home and continue their learning.
- In Peru, the borders and airports are closed, and a strict lockdown began on March 16. No one from Sagrada Familia is allowed to leave the campus, except for the few who shop for and pick up food donations. No one from outside campus is allowed inside. All the children remain healthy.
- In Cuba, no shutdowns have been ordered, but schools are closed, and travel to the island is limited until April 23. Additionally, the country’s national health services has been deployed to local communities to promote hand washing, social distancing and check on residents door-to-door in some cases. Our host partners have reported that they are healthy.
- In St. Lucia, a total lockdown of the island was imposed on March 31. Schools were closed four weeks earlier. All community partners have reported that they are healthy.
- In Greece, a lockdown was ordered on March 23. People are allowed to leave their homes for essential supplies with permission from an online form that, once approved, is sent to their phones. No teachers or students where we serve have been reported to be ill.
- In Poland, a strict shutdown of businesses and schools was ordered on April 14. No foreign flights are allowed into the country. Some teachers in Siedlce County have tried online classes; however, many students share a home computer with siblings and parents and live in rural areas with limited internet access.
- In Portugal, the city of Beja has three confirmed cases of COVID-19. On March 12, a State of Emergency closed schools all over the country, but no lockdown was imposed.
- In Italy, the countrywide lockdown was imposed on March 10. Our new partners in Sicily report that they are all healthy, and students have been studying at home.
- In Nepal, the national lockdown began on March 24. The children and staff of Papa’s House are safe and healthy. Final exams for the students of the Women’s School were completed before the lockdown, and the principal, Bina, is healthy and correcting exam papers.
- In the Cook Islands, tourism has been curtailed, with only essential NZ flights allowed, and the closure of ports to cruise ships. The school break was rescheduled to March 15 and extended to four weeks. The donations of school stationary items from volunteers is greatly appreciated by teachers who are directing home schooling strategies.
- In Vietnam, the Prime Minister asked major cities to prepare for possible lockdowns on March 20. Our community partners are practicing precautions and are healthy.
- In China, the lockdown of important services has been lifted but all colleges in Xi’an where we teach remain closed as a precaution.
- In Tanzania, no nation-wide lockdown has been ordered. No cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ukwega Ward where Global Volunteers works. Schools are still in session. The RCP staff is healthy and promoting coronavirus disease prevention protocols in all RCP communities.
- In Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia, the communities are under varying stay-at-home orders. Our West Virginia partner, SALS, is very busy delivering food to community members who can’t get out to do so. Our partners in both New Mexico and West Virginia report they are healthy and well. South Dakota has not yet issued a shutdown order.
Global Volunteers’ crisis is shared by every other organization in the world. We will survive this through smart, informed decisions and compassion for those we serve – the reason we exist. But to do so will require your support. As soon as the international travel restrictions for Americans are lifted and it is safe to travel to the countries where we serve, we will resume our work in partner communities. Please volunteer with us again as soon as you can. Your services are vital to the children and their families. In the meantime, please donate to help sustain our programs.
Bud Philbrook, Co-Founder and CEO