Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary Philanthropic Development Office (Chicago) – IHM PDO (Chicago)
COVID-19 Economic Response Fund
People from Nigeria (Imo, Enugo, Abia Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Benue, Kogi, Bauchi, Borno, Igede, Lagos, Oyo and Osun), Tchad, Cameroon, Ghana and Benin Republic.
The COVID-19 crisis presents the world with a huge challenge. Everyone is affected, and the response has to be both quick and at a global scale. While it is first and foremost a health crisis, it is also an education crisis, an employment and economic crisis, a crisis of hunger and a crisis pushing more people into poverty. The obstacles are not limited to care and treatment of people who are sick. In many communities, people live together in close quarters, which makes social distancing, a critical prevention strategy, more difficult. Millions of people live without access to clean running water, which makes frequent handwashing all but impossible.
The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ (IHM Sisters) are trained professional health personnel who have been providing proper healthcare services to poor families even before the COVID-19 pandemic. All homes for the elderly are functional. Sisters serving in soup kitchens are still providing meals for the homeless and the poor. With the current outbreak of COVID-19, many people are really in a desperate situation. No protective equipment, materials, or testing kits have been provided to Mission Hospitals in Nigeria. All IHM-owned hospitals are operating at over full capacity. We, as citizens of the world, need to take action to help the people in Africa. Each day a person dies because of this deadly virus, coupled with the financial constraints and other challenges that they are and have been facing though the years. If they do not get the help that they desperately need, we fear that crime rate and thievery will increase. With no access to income sources, these affected poor families are facing food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition and chronic ailments. Many are already experiencing negative psychological effects such as low self-esteem, stress, depression and suicide.
1. Feeding and Food Supplies
- Provide financial support to families of COVID-19 victims. Our aim would be to support these families financially for six months with their feeding and so they can be nourished with nutritional food.
2. Health Care
- Safety and Hygiene – We aim to provide protection and prevention by supplying safety & hygiene kits to families, with these items: sanitizers, mask, alcohol-based and anti-bacterial wipes, soaps, disposable gloves and toilet rolls.
- Pastoral Counselling – For families who have been affected by the virus or have lost their loves ones, we would like to provide pastoral, counselling and psychological care to help them through their period of grieve, anxiety and fear. We will have walk-in centers where these people can come in at any time and meet a psychologist or therapist to help and assist them. IHM Sisters in Nigeria are constructing emergency Outpatient Centers (OPD) to cater for immediate cases since government hospitals are not equipped.
3. Care Centers
- Support frontline worker at this critical time especially those in the medical profession, such as doctors, nurses and health care support workers, who are at the center of the crisis and are at risk themselves. Our organization would like to provide a food bank bag for them (containing rice, vegetables, pasta, tomatoes, meat, fish, biscuits), and even run a free meal-at-work program for them to support and encourage them.
- IHM in Birmingham UK, and IHM Caring Hands in Onitsha Anambra are serving at the Parish Soup Kitchen and providing food. The food is packed and distributed as take-aways to avoid contact.
- A COVID-19 Disease Control Center is being built at IHM Hospital in Anambra to be used as a control point of spread of the virus.
4. Awareness Program
- Print “COVID -19 Safety Measures” Banners showing the steps that people can follow to protect themselves and others, as well as to reduce the spread of the virus. These banners would be placed at strategic locations as a reminder for people to take precautions. In schools, hospitals, community health centers, residential homes, cities and villages. IHM Sisters in Nigeria are constructing hand-washing stations at various locations in different countries.
- Due to the lockdown, people are unable to physically attend Mass. They can only participate online via live streams. In Africa, the Internet or Wi-Fi connectivity is not stable, and many people do not have Internet access. Our organization would like to provide strong Internet access to support poor families, care homes, disability centers, orphanages, etc. so that they can participate in the online Masses.
- Believing in the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, our organization would also add a button for prayer intentions on the website so that people can send to us, and we can pray for them every day. This is where our Faith unites us together with one mind and heart. We hope to print about 10,000 copies of prayer cards to St Roch (Patron Saint to avert contagious maladies).
5. Capacity Building for the Future
- Train teenagers, young adults and IHM Sisters on the safety procedures to help eradicate the virus. So, they can advocate the importance of these safety measures in the villages and city, and teach people how to keep themselves and others around them safe. We will support them financially and equip them with materials.
- To continue educating our beneficiaries on COVID- 19 awareness, precautions and prevention measures.
- We continue to pay our staff and workers who are affected by the pandemic for at least 6 months.