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Clare Echo’s Ronan Scully appeals for help in African Covid-19 effort

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*Caption: Ronan Scully of Self Help Africa with farmers Viola, Shiri and Leila in Malawi

IN AN effort to assist his work with Self Help Africa, Clare Echo contributor Ronan Scully pens a letter to appeal to our readers to help in his effort to bringing Covid-19 safety supplies and information to the people of Africa.

On behalf of Self Help Africa, I hope that you and your loved ones here in Ireland are safe, and are coping well in these very challenging times. We are sincerely grateful for your support for our work over the past number of years, particularly here in County Clare and the Mid West region.  

Right now, we are doing all that we can to prepare for the impact of Coronavirus on communities across Africa.

To confront the unprecedented worldwide challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Self Help Africa is working with communities to mitigate its impact, in fragile countries that have weak health systems.

As the number of Covid-19 cases across the African continent continue to climb, we’ve been distribution information and promoting the practices that have been proven in the West to slow the spread of the virus.

We’re working with local partners and government agencies, and in these initial stages are providing soap and hand wash along with other equipment in localities where we can still reach, given new travel restrictions that have been introduced in the past week.

In Karonga in Northern Malawi – which has witnessed recent incidents of COVID-19 across its borders with Zambia and Tanzania – local communities are extremely vulnerable. This area has just a single doctor per 50,000 people.

This week, we began providing support to 9000 households in the locality, including:

▪️ Soap and handwash

▪️Information on COVID-19

▪️Advice on handwashing

▪️Dignity kits and sanitary materials for women and girls

▪️Jerry cans to transport and store water at home.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and are receiving regular updates from our colleagues in Africa. 

Soap is among the vital resources being provided by Self Help Africa to Malawi’s poor

In Ireland, Self Help Africa has temporarily closed our shops, has postponed various fundraising events and has postponed our school workshops as we develop on-line options to support teachers and their students.

Our offices in Ireland are closed, with staff working from home, while our staff in Africa are adapting their ways of working with rural communities, to continue supporting food production but also to assist in spreading vital health messaging at this critical time.

We remain committed to our mission to support some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities on the planet. Now, more than ever, your support is vital, as we all come together to combat this urgent global crisis.

We in Self Help Africa believe that failing to help vulnerable countries fight the coronavirus now could place millions at risk.  COVID-19 has already upended life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, and it is now reaching people living in famine and drought zones and in some of the poorest countries and cities in our world, with no soap and clean water and or hospital beds should many of the people and children fall critically ill.

If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will and could have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.

Countries battling the pandemic at home are “rightly prioritizing” their own communities, but the hard truth is that if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves, they would be failing to protect their own people.

Our priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the thousands who rely on humanitarian assistance from Self Help Africa to survive. Properly funded with the help of this appeal for Self Help Africa, our response effort will equip our colleagues with help from local partner organizations with the tools to fight the virus and save lives in some of the places we work in.

Self Help Africa’s efforts are part of what is now a global humanitarian response to minimise the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus. Scaling up our operations is essential now and for that resources and funding will be urgently needed. 

We cannot afford to delay for  tomorrow will be too late. To surrender the most vulnerable to this horrible virus in Africa would not only be morally irrephrehensible, it would also mean the pandemic will never be brought under full control. History will judge us on how we responded to the poorest communities in their darkest hour.

So it’s important to act together for the good of everyone, right now! Thank you always for all your support to our work it mean’s an awful lot to the people we are trying to help and care for. 

We are asking for your help now so that together, we can alleviate suffering in Malawi and some other countries in Africa where we work. Please, if you can, make a donation to help us continue this work with some of the world’s poorest people.

If you’d like to speak to me about how you can help – by simply making a donation – drop me a note to ronan.scully@selfhelpafrica.org, call 01-6778880, visit selfhelpafrica.org or visit https://selfhelpafrica.org/ie/covid-19-appeal/  to find out more. Or, simply send whatever you can afford to Self Help Africa, Westside Resource Centre, Seamus Quirke Road, Westside, Galway.

Elaine has been a member of staff with The Clare Echo since its foundation in October 2017. The paper's first Chief Reporter, the Kilrush woman is now working as a sub-editor in our busy newsroom. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Journalism. Elaine briefly worked with the RTE Investigations Unit on the Standards in Public Office investigation before returning to Clare to continue her career as a reporter with the Clare People where she spent nine months as the West Clare correspondent and also covered the 2016 General Election and 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

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