In November, the Associated Press reported “Scientists mystified, wary, as Africa avoids COVID disaster” and while we at Bread and Water for Africa® were pleased, we also realize that the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on our partners in sub-Saharan African countries such as Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone is more than simply the number of confirmed cases and deaths.

“When the coronavirus first emerged last year, health officials feared the pandemic would sweep across Africa, killing millions,” the AP reported. “Although it’s still unclear what COVID-10’s ultimate toll will be, the catastrophic scenario has yet to materialize in Zimbabwe or much of the continent.”

Zimbabwe is home to our longtime partner, Shinga Development Trust and its Lerato Children’s Village, where founder and director Margaret Makambira has been struggling to keep the orphaned and abandoned children in her care fed and healthy despite rampant inflation causing the prices of basic food staples to increase on practically a daily basis.

“COVID-19 has also played a major role in the downfall of the economy which was caused by the movement restrictions which mainly affected those doing buying and selling,” Margaret reported. “It also contributed greatly in the sense that gatherings were prohibited and community members were not enjoying mutual help benefits which slowed down production.”

However, the purported lack of confirmed cases and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to the World Health Organization, fewer than 6 percent of the people are vaccinated as people continue to contract the virus, albeit on a much lower level than initially anticipated, and frontline health care workers need personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and their family members safe.

Specifically, in Sierra Leone, our partners, the United Methodist Church Sierra Leone and the Rural Youth Development Organization are in desperate need of PPE including disposable face masks with ear loops, as well as thousands of KN95 masks, medical gowns, and coveralls to be used by medical staff in the clinics and hospitals they operate in order to treat the country’s underprivileged as soon as possible.

RYDO program manager Joseph Kobba notes that the government provides only free medical supplies and limited medicines to provide healthcare for children less than 5-years-old, new mothers, and pregnant women.

“Beyond that, our health centers would not have any other sources,” Joseph tells us. “RYDO works in rural areas where most people struggle to earn enough for a daily meal. The organization relies on donor organizations such as Bread and Water for Africa® to ensure our program’s sustainability.”

Joseph – and the staff at the RYDO healthcare facilities who are risking their lives to help the most impoverished in their communities in desperate need of medical care – are rely on us to help keep them safe during the pandemic, and we are counting on the continuing assistance of our supporters to enable us to do just that.