The COVID-19 virus in India is raging. During the first wave of the virus in 2020, the staff, children, and families of Bethania Kids remained healthy, as we have been thankful to report. India is now in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19, and a third, more brutal wave is expected in the fall. Despite India being a world leader in vaccine manufacturing, still only 4% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 45% in the United States (source: NY Times). The government has imposed a complete lockdown, making life especially difficult for day laborers and other low income people. Many Bethania Kids families are now in dire straits. The new Delta variant in India is extremely contagious, and the death-toll continues to rise. As we reported last week, we mourn the loss the Director of the Dayavu Home for Boys in Kannivadi, Eduman Isaac, who recently died of complications from COVID-19. The entire country is in need of substantial help from around the world. We want to provide as much protection from the virus, aid during the pandemic, and recovery post-pandemic for our Bethania Kids family as we possibly can.
Vaccinations are the first priority for Bethania Kids staff, our children, their families, and those in our Women’s Empowerment Programs. The need includes transportation to vaccination sites. We pray that all Bethania Kids staff and families will be vaccinated, as well as our children when vaccines are available for children. We estimate 5,000 vaccines will be required.
Also needed are: masks, additional personal protective equipment, food, nutritional supplements, and emergency hospitalization assistance.
Education support, community outreach, and communications
Bethania Kids children can continue their studies during the pandemic via television or internet, but few families in villages have access to wi-fi or televisions or even to books or other resources. Our children now in secondary or advanced education are attending classes on-line when and if they have laptops and access to the internet. Staff are also now serving as community social workers, coordinating and assisting with food distribution when possible. These circumstances have dramatically increased the need for cell phones, laptops, projectors, and smartscreens.
Restart in homes and care centers
Due to the high number of virus deaths, the number of orphans in India will continue to grow. Bethania Kids is in contact with local Child Welfare Regulators to apprise them of our availability to offer homes to orphans from the pandemic. We are positioned now to assist these most needy children.
We also have children returning to us who have lost a year of education, nurturing, and physical and emotional development. After the pandemic subsides, the children in our Bethania Kids programs will need to be evaluated for educational, spiritual, physical, medical and psychological needs. Additional funding is required for professional help to assess both the returning children and those new to Bethania Kids, all of whom may have suffered the loss of loved ones and other traumatic experiences.
What you can do to help
Please continue to pray for the protection of our children, families, staff, and board members in India. Our Board of Directors in North America and our Board of Trustees in India are diligently working together to assess the best ways to respond to the expanding needs of our children, staff, and families as a result of the spike in the virus.
We have launched a giving campaign to raise funds for crucial needs now and as the pandemic recedes and a “new normal” is found. Your financial support is more important than ever before. Especially during this critical time, your generous gifts are deeply, deeply appreciated. Click here to make a gift for COVID-19 Relief.
Bethania Kids will continue to do what we do best — care for children as individuals, worthy of love, belonging, and protection. Whether in an orphanage or out in the community, let’s hold (clean) hands with Indian children in need.