COVID-19

Impact & Response

Dear Hagar family,

What is currently unfolding across the globe is an unprecedented moment in our history, bringing with it uncertainty and concerns for the future. However, Hagar remains as committed as ever in its mission of transforming the lives of women and children overseas who have survived human trafficking, slavery and abuse. We are striving to ensure that those we work with have a future, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, where they thrive.

Stay tuned to this page as we will be providing regular updates on how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the countries and communities we work in, our Hagar survivors and the extra steps we are taking to ensure they are safe and healthy.

Message from our Global CEO

For over 26 years now, Hagar International has been supporting some of the most vulnerable women and children in the world – the survivors of human trafficking, modern slavery and abuse. Over this time, we have had the privilege of successfully transforming tens of thousands of lives and also to be a catalyst in stopping these things from occurring for good. In a time of crisis, like the one the world faces now with COVID-19, our work with some of the world’s most vulnerable people is even more important than ever.

COVID-19 is affecting people across the globe, including our highly vulnerable clients in the countries where Hagar serves. We have plans in place in each of our countries both to protect our staff and also to continue to serve our clients as best we can. These plans include undertaking client counselling remotely, holding training on-line, using technology to complete other activities in safe ways and, where possible, having staff work remotely, while we pass through this challenging period. We will regularly update and revise these plans as the situation unfolds.

We will continue through this time of uncertainty to do all we can to help serve our clients whilst maintaining the safety of our staff. As is Hagar’s motto “we will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to restore a broken life” and we won’t let COVID-19 stop this important calling.

We thank you for your continued amazing support and partnership at this challenging time. It enables us to continue to free and heal the 40.3 million people in the world currently affected by human trafficking, modern slavery and abuse.

Regards,

Dr. Andrew Catford
Global CEO, Hagar International

Cambodia Covid-19 Update

Cambodia has had no new COVID-19 cases reported for 30 days straight. Total confirmed cases are 122 as of Tuesday 12 May. 121 cases have been cured and discharged from hospital and only 1 still active.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Minister of Health have called on the public to remain cautious about COVID-19. They reminded the community that a second wave of the virus is a “real threat”.

Furthermore, Cambodia’s key economic pillars, tourism and garment industries have all been hit severely with several hundred thousand formal and informal workers being affected in this sector alone.

More than 180 factories in Cambodia have suspended operations while another 60 are at risk of closure. The situation impacts 200,000 garment workers directly and two million others indirectly according to Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

The government is reassessing the cost of assistance to laid-off garment workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as it braces itself to spend more on rising unemployment according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Religious gatherings, schools, casinos and entertainment venues also remain closed.

Although schools remain closed, the Government continues to provide online teaching and learning. Some of our clients don’t have a smartphone or can’t access the internet which makes studying difficult. More recently the Government also introduced a distance e-learning program on TV. However, our clients in remote villages do not have access to this.

Due to the warnings from the Government and WHO, the counsellors are still unable to physically visit their clients, so they continue to rely on phone counseling.

On a more positive note, we are seeing the level of stress and anxiety of some clients reduce due the COVID-19 situation easing.

 

Survivor in Focus

Kakada is 22 years old, living in Phnom Penh. He returned to live with his mother and stepfather about a year ago. He currently studies International Business Management at university.

Kakada also loves to run own business rather than work for others. He was selling some second hand products (bells and bags) online when he had free time from his study. His business went really well and he could make money to support his living costs and study. However, things became extremely challenging and he has to stop his business in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, the supplier that he sourced his second hand items from had to shut down.

Since his school and business have been closed, Kakada stays at home with his mother. His mother is able to give him some daily food and he also gets some support from his friends from church. He is helping his mother with house chores and doing self study at home. Kakada said:

“It is a difficult time for me as I am an adult. I really don’t want to depend on others as they are also in a difficult time as the result of the coronavirus outbreak. I feel concerned [that] when the school re-opens and my business is still not working that I need to pay for stationaries, research and food.”

“It is a difficult time for me as I am an adult. I really don’t want to depend on others as they are also in a difficult time as the result of the coronavirus outbreak. I feel concerned [that] when the school re-opens and my business is still not working that I need to pay for stationaries, research and food.”

The case manager has assessed his needs and Hagar is going to provide emergency support including a food package and hygiene materials to Kakada for 3 months from May to July. The case manager will reassess his needs after this period. Kakada expressed: “I am happy that Hagar is going to support me during this hard time. Thank you very much for thinking of me and helping me!”

Afghanistan Covid-19 Update

There are 5,226 confirmed COVID-19 cases as at 14 May.

However, beyond COVID-19, there has been significantly more unrest in Afghanistan due to the recent tragic attacks on a maternity ward in Kabul and at a police commander’s funeral in the neighboring Nangarhar province.

New mothers, nurses and at least two newborn babies were among the 16 people killed in an assault on the maternity hospital in the capital, Kabul, while the bombing in the Nangarhar province killed at least 26 people. You can read a full news report here.

The country is also experiencing challenges in access to food due to the longer term impact of war and more recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country and has experienced decades of war, insecurity and drought which has destroyed its rich agriculture. As a result, there has been a spike in imported goods.

This has in turn caused a significant increase in price of wheat, oil and pulses across the country in the past month. When Pakistan, Tajikistan and major borders were shut down due to COVID-19, other food supplies, medicine and essential items also became scarce.

Sadly, the extreme spikes in food prices and supplies is felt most by those that are vulnerable in the community. They are also often not prioritized when it comes to food distribution.

From a Hagar Afghanistan perspective, we are not able to conduct some of our project activities using the usual approach due to COVID-19 restrictions. For example, our caseworkers are not able to deliver training to clients or visit them and some survivors are unable to attend classes at school. Vocational training is also postponed as staff cannot interact with clients face to face. However, staff are trying to remain in contact with survivors via phone as much as possible.

Due to decades of war, the IT and power infrastructure in Afghanistan is weak and therefore problematic when it comes to conducting any online training.

 

Survivor in Focus

Yasamin, is a survivor of domestic and gender base violence and manages a beauty salon business.

When we recently reached out to her, we learnt that she unfortunately had no work due to the salon being closed due to COVID-19. Despite not earning any income, the salon owner is still demanding that she pays rent. He biggest fear is losing the salon as the owner will evict her if she doesn’t pay rent. Yasamin said:

“It is a really tough time for me. I hope this situation gets better.”

We are keeping in regular contact with Yasamin to offer support during this challenging period.

Vietnam Covid-19 Update

As of May the 14th, there have been 288 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Vietnam. 252 patients have fully recovered and no deaths. More than 261,000 tests have been performed.

The Government has relaxed social-distancing rules and has allowed the resumption of non-essential services including bars as long as they maintain preventative measures. Since our last update, schools have reopened (every child in Vietnam is now back at school for the first time since February 1st!), as have several tourist destinations. Public bus transport has now resumed as normal and domestic flights can carry 100% passengers instead of 80%. Masks continue to be recommended, but are no longer mandatory and are not worn widely now.

As a result, Hagar staff have been able to start travelling to provinces to meet with clients and conduct field assessments again. While Hagar staff were able to return to the office several weeks ago, they were unable to travel due to the restrictions and still had to conduct meetings and sessions with clients over the phone. However, 100% of Hagar Vietnam’s operations are now running again and a big area of focus going forward will be helping existing and former clients find new economic opportunities.

 

Survivor in Focus

Mai is one of the first clients that Hagar received when we first started working in Vietnam. Mai has been suffering from the trauma caused by domestic violence. Mai, with Hagar’s partnership, gradually escaped the ghost of her painful past to become more independent and self-sufficient in her life.

Thanks to Hagar, Mai had the opportunity to receive vocational training and is currently working at a restaurant. Although the work is hard and her income is low, Mai works very hard to earn enough money to raise her high-school son and manage their living costs. With every day that has passed, she has to live in panic and worry about whether she and her son would have food to eat tomorrow.

Although the case has been closed for nearly two years, our mission of “the whole journey” has included, the case manager following up on Mai’s situation during the pandemic.

“Knowing the difficulty she was facing, Hagar quickly subsidized nutrition to ensure that she was in good physical and mental health. Particularly, understanding the stress and fears of being unemployed, the case manager provides Mai with information about government support packages and guides her on how to prepare and submit the administrative documents to receive this support.” 

Thanks to the care and guidance of Hagar, Mai was relieved and less tense about the economic burden when she finished the registration for the government support package.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

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