For more than 20 years, Children of the Mekong has been working in the Inayawan landfill district where the majority of the inhabitants still work as ragpickers, sorting waste in the storage warehouses spread out across the district. The project aims to support families by giving them the means to progress: providing care and education to young children at our nurseries, and professional and spiritual training to parents.
PLAN OF ACTION
At the beginning of 2020 the association was running 7 nurseries and welcoming 80 children, with a plan to open an 8th nursery in the relocation zone of San Pio Village for a further dozen or so children.
In mid-March the government declared a public health emergency and put strict lockdown rules into place which included the closing of all collaborative organisations (nurseries, schools, universities, etc.) and the banning of group meetings. A curfew was also implemented, preventing all children from leaving their homes. These measures remain in place over a year later.
Since then, children have remained trapped at home all day, every day with their parents who, for the most part, have lost their jobs. We have therefore had to postpone the opening of the 8th nursery which was due to happen in early 2020.
Faced with a humanitarian crisis, the Local Manager, Miss Helen, quickly set up a way of providing food aid to families, distributing rice, meals, financial support, etc. Of particular note, she organised a “community kitchen”, run by volunteers, at the COTM Centre. They made use of nursery facilities and handed out around 100 meals a day for several months. She used sponsorship money to equip the centre with a fridge, pans and other necessary items in order to respond to these new needs.
NEW MEASURES AND INVENTIVENESS
In August 2020, the situation hadn’t changed and nurseries were still not allowed to open. So, noting how underfed some children were, Miss Helen decided to modify the concept. From then on, the nursery staff visited the children’s homes every day to bring them milk, a balanced meal that has been cooked at the COTM kitchen centre, and also educational activities for them to do. 12 more children have been added to the existing list of 80 as they have been selected to join the 8th nursery. The children have all warmly welcomed both the milk and their nursery staff! This new set-up will remain in place until nurseries can reopen.
The children have gained weight again, and those who must go to school at the start of the next academic year are well prepared. They have learnt the necessary skills needed such as writing their own names, recognising shapes and the letters of the alphabet.
A BREAK FOR CHRISTMAS
The only small break in government restrictions was that each nursery was able to open again to celebrate Christmas on the 18th of December. This meant that the children could see their friends at the nursery again for one day, join in activities together and open presents – mostly treat and clothes, but vitamins, too!
Parent and nursery staff training is on hold for now while group meetings are not allowed, but every week, nursery staff compete in educational activities that they have prepared and they also share their experiences every Friday when they meet with Miss Helen.
For now, everyone is well and being patient (there have been almost no cases of Covid-19 in the neighbourhood and no deaths after 1 year of the pandemic).
SPONSOR A CHILD,
A CONCRETE AND SUSTAINABLE ACT
Child sponsorship is long-term support that allows your sponsored child to focus on their studies. Thanks to you, they will no longer need to toil in a rice field or a landfill site to make ends meet. Child sponsorship also makes it possible to concretely improve their life and that of their family. A sponsored child is fed, dressed and educated.