By Lauren Odderstol June 23, 2020 Given the recent events here in America – all happening within the chaos of a pandemic – we’re far more attuned to the grief our hurting world is feeling. Our daily work includes turning up the volume for those who we serve – whose voices need to be heard. We hold onto hope that change can and will happen – that we can support the most marginalized across the world. That we can give a loudspeaker where voices are not being heard. Here at Medical Teams, we play our small but important role in supporting underserved and displaced people living literally on the margins of society around the world. We believe in giving them access to life-saving care. That every life matters, and they are worth serving. Our aim is bringing hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. In Part I, we talked through the realities people are facing against COVID-19 in the places we work. In Part II, we’ll address why there’s still hope. 1. Social Distancing is Near Impossible, Staying Inside is Difficult, and News is Slow to Spread… But We Have Community Health Workers. In the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh – where cases have begun popping up – there’s an average of 100,000 people per square mile. How do you prevent the spread of a deadly disease in challenging circumstances? Educate and inform. It’s the same feeling we have probably all had here in the U.S. What can or can I not do during this pandemic? Are there places I should be avoiding? At what frequency? Should I wear a mask everywhere I go? Our Community Health Workers (CHWs) are going from home to home in these communities, creating WhatsApp messaging, creating flyers, and making sure that everyone knows the best practices around social distancing in COVID-19. Similar to our own experience with this pandemic – while we can’t stay inside for everything – this information is helpful for knowing how to keep a safe, social distance from others. Our CHWs are vital to helping refugee families obtain the information and resources they need to fight this pandemic. Community Health Workers go from home to home, from tent to tent, sharing important information about COVID-19 prevention. (shown here: refugee camp in Lebanon) 2. Critical Equipment is Scarce or Non-existent, But We Are Working Toward Getting Equipment Where It Is Needed. It’s true – the equipment we need to be able to sufficiently fight this virus is still in short supply around the world. We need more oxygen and ventilators in our isolation and treatment centers in Bangladesh. We need more handwashing stations in refugee settlements to help with social distancing and reducing the spread of disease. We urgently need more N95 masks for doctors treating patients in the field. The good news? Together, we can help supply it. Our MHP team and volunteers prepare a shipment of needed supplies to send to Guatemala. Our Logistics team is working around the clock to ensure our doctors in the field receive the PPE they need to provide care to COVID and non-COVID patients. To equip our Community Health Workers with masks and gloves so they can continue checking in on families and providing valuable health information. You can be a part of it through donations to our global programs – to equip our teams with the supplies they need to continue providing essential health care. 3. Simple Precautions Like Disinfecting are Scarce, But We are Making Them More Available. Hand sanitizer is hard to come by pretty much everywhere these days. In refugee settlements, hand washing stations are usually shared by more than the recommended amount of people, rendering them unhygienic. The good news is – we’re working on it. When a global pandemic is entering into a breeding ground for disease, the name of the game is prevention. Prevention looks like 1,250 hygiene kits sent to Uganda to distribute items like hand sanitizer, soap and washcloths to families who don’t have access to them. Prevention looks like installing hand washing stations in remote villages in Guatemala to reduce potential spread of COVID-19. Our Guatemala team installing hand washing stations in the community. Together, we can provide the essentials needed for good hygiene practices and disease prevention. 4. Pre-existing Conditions are Prevalent, But We are Continuing To Treat These Conditions. Even with a global pandemic on the rise in refugee settlements, we keep doing the same work we’ve always done. For individuals with preexisting conditions, our Community Health Workers (CHWs) come alongside them to help prevent infection as best as they can. When children like 5-year-old Asil, suffering from kidney failure, are facing a real COVID-19 scare, we have CHWs available to help protect them and refer them to the care they need. Thanks to their CHW, Asil and her mother went to the hospital and were able to get a COVID-19 test. To their relief, the test was negative. At 5 years old, Asil receives dialysis twice a week for her kidney failure. A virus like COVID-19 could prove fatal for children like Asil. “It is expected that if one of us refugees gets infected by COVID-19 virus, the whole community will be infected as this is an overcrowded area. Many of us have family members that could be at high risk. We are all worried,” said Mariam, Asil’s mother. Our job is to help protect families like Mariam and Asil’s – to give them the information they need to feel more in control over their situation and safe from this unfamiliar disease. To protect children like Asil from catching a disease that would prove fatal. We’re Fighting This Pandemic Together This virus truly has revealed just how interconnected we really are. In order to win this fight, it is vital to remember that we are fighting this pandemic together. And together – we can meet these challenges head-on. The need is great, and we can help meet it. Even in times of trouble, we are blessed to have the resources that we do in America. Together, we can help deliver resources to our brothers and sisters who need them across the world. One donation toward PPE can help a doctor in Bangladesh care for patients in our isolation and treatment center. One gift can provide the masks needed to safely spread vital information about COVID-19 in refugee settlements and communities. Together, we can make a difference. We can provide the resources to fight this pandemic where they are needed most. You can help provide refugees with the resources they need to fight COVID-19 here.