Reporting date: November 24, 2020
Total cases: 99633
COVID-19 has left no country untouched. Yet, the impact has been particularly felt by those already in economic turmoil. As the poorest country in Europe, Moldova was quick to declare a national state of emergency when the virus hit in March. Still, in the weeks that followed, the measures introduced to contain the spread have had dire repercussions – leaving people at the margins of society more vulnerable than ever…
The elderly, children (many of them orphans) and Moldova’s large informal workforce are some of the worst affected. Nationwide lockdown has not only brought many livelihoods to a stand-still it has also forced people to stay home with few social protection networks and even worse economic situation.
More than a billion children are unable to attend school as a result of the pandemic – an added pressure for parents who have lost their jobs or are facing unpaid leave. While professionals in richer nations switch to remote work and weekly Zoom calls, many families in Moldova go without internet. Many of these families, who were already struggling to make ends meet prior to COVID-19, lack the means to cope and are beginning to abandon children they can no longer afford to feed.
On the flip side, the country’s ageing population are facing another cruel blow with endemic loneliness and social isolation further impinging on their quality of life.
Dorcas is taking timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by working to bridge the income gap and mitigating social risks. All Dorcas Moldova staff, partners and volunteers have undertaken training on ePROTECT Respiratory Infections – a learning package provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO). We also invested in personal protective equipment (PPE) for personnel before initial response activities were allowed to commence.
Relief and prevention
Dorcas is working with local volunteers to deliver food packages and hygiene kits to vulnerable families across Moldova. Our efforts are particularly focused on the most vulnerable category – older generations living in rural communities. This approach continues to ensure that over 1400 elderly from more than 15 districts and 69 communities receive the support they need. Those involved are also bringing needed food and material support and help with household chores for at-risk elderly who are advised to stay at home unless strictly necessary.
We have adapted our programme in Moldova to provide reliable public health and prevention information often in the form of booklets that contain exercises for families or elderly individuals to complete together. These activities are particularly directed at households where no internet is available.
Local church members, volunteers and project staff have banded together to provide spiritual and moral support to the elderly by phone and internet. One community pastor also initiated digital prayer marathons.
Our dedicated team are making personal visits to those who need that extra bit of support. We take a case-by-case approach and refer the individual to additional services where needed.
For households that do have access to internet, we are holding regular ‘catch up’ calls with the whole family. As part of this initiative we are offering Bible studies to children and adults to keep them motivated. If parents are stressed, children often suffer too. Dorcas is providing psychosocial support and positive parenting sessions to help parents and caregivers manage stress and make use of the skills they already possess. We also ran a summer camp for children online to fill the gap in schooling and give parents a break.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the value of connection”, says Leila Sorbala, Dorcas Country Director for Moldova. “But it has also shown us that there are support groups out there who can provide this care and connection. Now that children are spending the majority of their time with family at home it is especially important that these are safe places. Elderly – who already suffer from loneliness – have become more isolated than ever. Community mobilisation where people join forces to support each other is crucial in these difficult times. That’s why we’re conducting online trainings in ABCD and child protection amongst other specialisms to expand skillsets and better equip ourselves for the challenges ahead.”
Working together is also a key component of the response. “We will maintain our relationships with external partners as well as internal teams via regular ‘catch up’ and brainstorm meetings. If we can apply the learnings from our collective experience and exchange best practice, then we can strengthen elements of the programme. Looking at the best digital forums by which to communicate with each other but also our beneficiaries may be key to our success moving forward.”
Dorcas programmes in Moldova are primarily funded by our supporters in the Netherlands and implemented directly with the support of seven local partners – many of them church-based. Follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on our emergency response as we work through the crisis. For general information, you can also visit our dedicated country page.
16 December 2020