Your COVID-19 Questions
As countries around the world combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Cuso is working to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, partners, and beneficiaries. This pandemic is especially devastating to our most vulnerable communities – most of whom are without the basic health care and day-to-day resources you and I have available. In light of the increased risk of countries imposing travelling restrictions, Cuso made the decision to accelerate the return of all volunteers in March of 2020. Our teams across the globe are working tirelessly to support measures to reduce the risk of proliferation of COVID-19. We currently have a small number of in-country volunteers who have recently begun new placements in support of the work of our partners. Staff and volunteers are working from home, and we are doing all we can to ensure these new working arrangements have minimal impact on our operations. As situations improve in our countries, allowing staff and volunteers to work on site, we will ensure proper measures are in place to uphold our duty of care.
In light of the current context, to be able to ensure continuity of our programs and to provide support to our partners, Cuso has implemented certain adaptations. These include, targeting recruitment to volunteers who are in-country and those who can provide remote support from Canada. We are also designing partnership and programming tools to be self administered or supported remotely. In some countries we have supported adjustments by partners in their activities, for example delivering training to smaller groups or moving training online.
Cuso has launched two rapid response projects in order to address the challenges women and girls face during the pandemic:
Helping Rural communities in Cameroon respond to COVID-19 - This rapid response project in Cameroon focuses on women who traditionally are less exposed to information and who, because of their mobility outside their households in search of subsistence, are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Cuso is working with women's empowerment centres, health workers, radio stations and schools to minimize risk and increase community awareness.
Women’s Voice in Leadership (WVL) - Through our WVL program in Peru, we are providing access to emergency funds in situations that threaten women’s rights. Since the earliest days of COVID-19, these funds have assisted the four WVL women-led partner organizations to respond to COVID-19 related emergencies in their communities. It has given them access to food supplies and sanitation supplies, Personal Protection Equipment, helped them communicate gender violence and COVID-19 prevention messages through radio spots in Spanish and Quechua, and provided legal support and psychosocial support to victims of GBV and those within the LGBTQ community.
Cuso International continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing impacts in Canada and around the world. Given the present circumstances, we have made the decision to delay the deployment of volunteers from Canada until 2021. The duty of care for our volunteers is our greatest consideration and we will resume placements when we are confident that we can uphold the standard of care and ensure minimal risks for our staff, partners and volunteers as well as the communities we serve. In the meantime, please check our Volunteer Placements for e-volunteering opportunities that align with your skill set. E-volunteering is a great way to contribute to partners and projects remotely and can help build the foundation for an international placement once it is deemed safe to travel.
With the COVID-19 crisis reaching new corners of the world each day, we’re working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of our Cuso community. This pandemic is especially devastating to women and girls around the world – most of whom are without basic health care. Join us, as we continue working to reduce poverty and inequality. Donate today
Q&A: with David Forest, Head of Programs, Africa
David Forest, Cuso International’s Head of Programs-Africa, moved from Ottawa to Benin in September 2019 with his partner and their two young children to assume his new role.
The family was forced to return early as the coronavirus began to rapidly spread through Europe and North America, and the Canadian government urged Canadians to come home. David sat down by phone for a Q&A about how the coronavirus has impacted his work.
Compassion in the time of COVID-19
Everyone has been touched by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in one way or another. But there are some groups for whom the current pandemic is being felt in more acute ways. Women as a whole are disproportionately affected whenever any disaster strikes, and this is no exception. Read more from Sarah Pentlow, Cuso International Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Consultant.