Update on the Corona situation

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The COVID-19 Poverty & Hunger Relief project is going well. We have delivered food parcels to 45 families that need it most so far & each parcel should last them a month. We will be doing more over the coming weeks. Just to update you on what we decided regarding our staff, below is a whatsapp message I sent round to them all. We are doing the payments to them now.

COVID-19 Staff Relief 2 months

As many of you are aware we have started an All Out Africa Foundation COVID-19 Poverty & Hunger Relief project. The aim is to get food or money to those that need it most as a result of the Corona Virus Pandemic.

As part of this, using some funds from a once-off donation by All Out Africa and some funds from a once-off donation by one of our supporters, Atle, we wish to support those of our staff who are laid off and in need of assistance to provide food for their families during this time.  In line with the principal that it goes to those who need it most & to be objective & fair we have agreed that this donation will be R350 per staff member who earns less than R1,000.00 per month for two of the next three months. We will do this for permanent staff and those temporary staff who have been consistently involved for an extended period.

Hoping this will help during this time and that you are all keeping safe & well and looking forward to connecting again.

Of the E350 per staff member, E200 is coming from your funds & the other E150 is coming from business reserves. Thank you again for your help.

All the best

Kim

The corona virus is hitting the economy in Eswatini

The Corona virus is not yet widely spread in Southern Africa. However, the financial impact in Eswatini is already severe. In this extraordinary situation, we sent an extra donation to support the staff and the children. Below the response from All out Africa today:

Here we are very worried about what the local impact of COVID-19 will be. We are bracing ourselves for the worst. Right now we have been severely impacted by the travel bans, lock-downs and the resulting crash in our income. Our roughly 60 staff are all main providers for their often very large families and they are all very dependent on the income that has now vanished. In order for All Out Africa to survive and in order to preserve the future jobs for our staff, we have had to temporarily layoff a lot of staff and I am very worried about how they will provide for their families during this time when adequate nutrition is particularly important. We will be trying to provide every one of them at least with money for food, but the question remains… how long will this go on for?

In terms of infection with COVID-19 here, the current level (as far as we know) is low – only 9 people positive for COVID-19 in Eswatini to date. But from our experience of trying to get two people tested on separate occasions – the capacity to test here is way too low and the cost of testing is very high (for many people it is the value of ½ a month’s salary). So likely this is a huge under statement of the infection level. But our biggest worry is for the coming months ahead. We have seen the high pressure of COVID-19 on very well developed and very well funded health care systems in Europe, Asia & North America and we are terrified of how our already struggling, under capacitated and under-funded local health care system will likely be overwhelmed by the need to care for sick people once the rate of spread increases to the types of levels currently in Europe. It seems inevitable that this will happen and yet our government does not have the resources to be able to put in place rapid response measures to be prepared for this. In addition, with the world’s highest HIV prevalence we have a huge proportion of our population at severe risk. On the bright side, however, the government of South Africa and Eswatini acted quickly to close down travel and to implement social distancing and lock-down and our population age distribution is relatively young and this disease seems to have greater impact on older people. Hopefully these will mean the rate of spread is slowed and the impact lessened. Nevertheless, we are heading into a desperate situation and right now we are just doing what we can to provide for food for families in our broader community and help spread awareness of how to limit the spread of this Pandemic. We have been in touch with a member of the local Eswatini COVID-19 task force and the Business Eswatini association to try to see how we can do our bit to help in the National response.

We are hugely grateful for your amazingly generous donation of ZAR50,000 to the All Out Africa Foundation by you Atle and your colleagues at BDO during what I’m sure is a very difficult time for you all. We will ensure these funds are used efficiently and effectively to address basic needs in the communities within which All Out Africa works during these testing coming months and we will update you how they were used. Please do stay safe and well and we look forward to re-uniting in person in the future in a world that will have recovered from the Corona Virus Pandemic and which hopefully will have learnt some very valuable lessons from it all. One of the biggest encouragements for us is the sense of community we all feel in uniting to address a very difficult challenge. Thank you so much to you and your colleagues at BDO for your part in helping us and our communities to do so during this challenging time. Very are extremely grateful.

Very warm regards and best wishes

Kim

Birthday Greetings from Eswatini

Here in the sunny Kingdom of Eswatini we think very fondly of the celebration you will all be having for Atle’s 60th birthday, probably in much colder conditions. However cold the weather, I’m sure there are some very warm hearts! We know without doubt that Atle has a warm heart. Wow, 60 years! That is quite something – and from what I can gather it has been an adventure filled and inspiring 60 years!

For me it is sometimes hard to believe that someone in Norway, so far from our tiny kingdom of Eswatini, can care enough about people here to make personal sacrifices in order to improve the lives of people so far way. It gives me hope and faith in humanity.

For me Eswatini is a magical place. It is home. It is the land of my birth. It is a place of sunshine, of singing and dancing, of the expressive siSwati language and smiling brown faces. It is a place of proud culture interconnected with natural heritage, of exploring mountains and rivers, of wildlife and farming. It is a place brooding with youth and development but somehow still connected to the timeless ways of old. It is a place of acceptance and community, where a businessman can wear a traditional loin cloth and sandles or a suit, where a stick and mud hut can be next to a modern house.

But Eswatini is also a place grappling with challenges. It has the highest HIV infection rate of any country in the world, 63% of people live below the poverty line and most people are younger than 21. At All Out Africa we try to make small interventions to help address some of these challenges. It is not enough but it is something, and if we can even change one life for the better then it is a victory. Atle, you and your friends have already made a world of difference to All Out Africa and the children we can assist and for that we are eternally grateful. Thanks to you and others we are able to feed 241 vulnerable children two meals a day and give them a decent early childhood education. We know that this stage in a child’s development is key to their future success. You are helping us create a brighter future for the Kingdom of Eswatini.

We thank you for your care and support and we wish you a very happy birthday and many more to come.

Siyabonga kakhulu!

All the best

Kim

New clothes and shoes

Finally, after a long transport and waiting time at the border for customs clearance, the clothes and shoes donated by good-hearted people in Norway arrived in eSwatini. Eunice from All out Africa will handle the distribution of the clothes to the children who needs it the most.

Bayanda

Last time we visited eSwatini, we met Bayanda, a boy aged 11 or 12. He did not have a birth certificate and therefore, he could not go to school with the other kids. That is how the system works in eSwatini. We left an envelope with money for his school uniform at All out Africa, to be used the day he could start school.

Today, I received this message:

Hi Atle,

I am happy to let you know that Bayanda has finally got his full set of school uniform. It took us some years to deliver because he did not have a birth certificate thus could not attend primary school.
Byanda’s guardian also mentioned that he is doing very well at school and he is going to be promoted 2 classes ahead. You have changed Bayanda’s life in that he is now going to look like other children at school.

Kind Regards,

Eunice

Bayanda with his new uniform, finally ready for school
Bayanda in 2017 – attending the NCP

Children’s clothing

The winter in eSwatini can be cold and windy. In July, the temperature can be less than +10 degrees at night. Most houses do not have electricity or any other form of heating. My good collagues in BDO have now started an initiative to collect clothes for the children in eSwatini. The intention is to ship the clothes end of April, when the winter is approaching. We are therefore interested in children’s clothes in size 3-6 years. Please contact me (atle.sundoy@gmail.com) if you have clothes or shoes you will donate.