All Hands and Hearts’ commitment to communities affected by natural disasters remains resolute. As stated in my recent update, we predict our operational suspension for volunteer-driven programs will remain in place until September 2020. With the safety of the communities we serve, volunteers and staff as our top priority, our team is working hard to develop customized plans to prioritize our operational return to specific programs.
In support of the global community during the COVID-19 crisis, we are leveraging our supply chain expertise to procure and deliver critically-needed personal protective equipment to heavily impacted areas in the U.S. We are also working with global partners to see how we can potentially provide funding support for their immediate COVID-19 relief efforts. Finally, we are exploring ways to leverage our volunteer-powered model with NGO partners, around COVID-19 needs, once it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Please see below for specific, location-based updates on the current state of our suspended programs:
Australia Bushfire Relief: We are in touch with local partners, and once COVID-19-related restrictions have been lifted, we will reassess the need on Kangaroo Island with the goal of engaging in environmental protection as originally planned.
Mexico Earthquake Relief: As part of the continued recovery effort following the September 2018 earthquakes, we were preparing to open Program Tomaneca to rebuild two schools within the Costa region of Oaxaca, Mexico. We remain fully committed to starting this program, and hope to do so towards the end of year.
Mozambique Cyclone Relief: Working within COVID-19 regulations, we hired local contractors to finalize the construction of our school buildings and washrooms so students can move out of their temporary, open-air learning spaces into safe, weather-proof classrooms. Final touches (painting, furniture additions and landscaping) are currently underway and the schools will be move-in ready in early May.
Nepal Earthquake Relief: The monsoon season typically starts in mid-June; there is a critical need to make our schools safe so children can relocate from temporary classrooms into the main buildings and have appropriate shelter. We are monitoring local restrictions to determine if, and when, local staff can return to the Thakureshor and Janakalyan schools to complete construction and finalize the buildings. If staff can’t continue this work by May 15, the sites will stay closed until the monsoon season recedes in October.
Peru Earthquake Relief: Following the 2007 earthquake, the community has stabilized and established suitable, makeshift facilities for education. This means there is less of an urgent need for us to provide an immediate solution. Our intention is to complete the school once conditions permit us to return.
Philippines Typhoon Relief: The plan for both Agani and Dadda schools is to focus immediate work on building safe classrooms. We will work with a contractor to complete these classrooms once they can return safely to work amid COVID-19 concerns. We are reviewing the timing for the completion phase, with the expectation that our local contractor must ensure there is a safe, finished school ahead of the 2020 typhoon season.
The Bahamas Hurricane Relief: We are currently hiring local contractors to finish installing shingles on 27 homes that were left partially roofed when we suspended the program; providing local partners with necessary building materials so they can complete all phases of work on the Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS); and working closely with local contractors and school staff to continue the critical recovery work on the Every Child Counts School. As COVID-related restrictions are lifted, we plan to return with an expanded program.
United States Hurricane Relief
Florida: We will reopen our Hurricane Michael program to assist with home repair projects when volunteers can return safely.
Puerto Rico: This program was nearly finalized at the time of our suspension, and we were able to donate necessary materials to the local municipality to complete construction of the Limones Baseball Field and finish our last seven roof repairs. We have hired local contractors to carry out any repairs needed at the volunteer base before it is returned to the community. You can read the final program report here.
Texas: At the time of suspension, we were in the early stages of work on two homes. If this was left incomplete the families couldn’t have returned home safely, so we hired vetted, local contractors to finish the work. We will return to Coastal Bend once local conditions allow us to continue our Hurricane Harvey program.
The indicators we use to determine if, and when, we can restart operations take into account advice from agencies like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our framework also considers travel restrictions, local government rules and regulations, along with community willingness and advice from other NGOs that are confronting the same challenges.
Our projected roadmap to return consists of three phases:
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds we will do what we can to provide immediate and longer-term support for those in need. We remain committed to our work and are taking precautions seriously so that once it is safe we can return back to our efforts in supporting communities impacted by natural disasters.
I hope we can count on your support as the communities where we work face even greater challenges during this global crisis.
Please be in touch with any questions or thoughts you may have.
Stay safe and healthy, Erik Dyson CEO