Dear Mighty Herd
From time to time infectious diseases develop into epidemics or pandemics, and create increased risks for the community. COVID-19 is of real concern and we want to do all we can to flatten the curve. Social distancing is one way we can show people that they are loved. Please know that we love you!
Our team in Australia continues to from home and we are doing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We rely on tech for all of our communications which is actually not much of a change for us with most of our global meetings conducted online or by telephone.
Putting public interest and safety first, we have cancelled, postponed or reinvented fundraising events for the time being. This will be a devastating financial blow to our core work of getting children out of orphanages and back home, where they belong.
You can text REUNITE to 0437 371 371 to make a tax-deductible donation at any time. Every little bit helps. A receipt for your donation will be issued directly.
Our global response
We continue to be guided by the information and directions provided by local health authorities and the World Health Organisation, and its occupational health and safety obligations.
We will assist children, staff and others, as relevant, to minimise their exposure to COVID-19. Personal and communal hygiene including extra care with hand washing and sanitising is expected and soap/sanitiser available.
We have delivered a series of RISE events to keep people up to date with our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
You can click on the link to read the report.
RISE Report November 2021
Update from Diptesh in India
Since the beginning of the pandemic 1 in 40 residents have been infected with COVID-19. There have been 34,037,592 confirmed cases and 451, 814 deaths reported to the World Health Organisation. A total of 951,984, 373 vaccine doses have been administered. Hospitals have been overwhelmed and turned away countless patients because there simply are not enough beds. Many people have lost their jobs. Daily wage earners and migrant labourers have been hard hit. The aviation and tourism industries have been severely affected.
Forget Me Not partners with local children’s charity Lakshya Aakriti Foundation (LAF) and provides small grants for initiatives that prevent family separation and promote education. LAF Director Diptesh Singh reports from India.
projectHELP is focused on Health, Education, Livelihoods and Possibilities. Our work is child-focused and supports families to be self-sustaining so that their children can dive into the magical world of education head first! LAF provides free education to children living in slum areas so that they can be enrolled in mainstream education.
We teach children about hygiene, nutrition, literacy, numeracy, science, and living skills through regular classes. COVID-19 forced closure of all Brighter Futures Study Centres and all classes have been suspended. Recently we have been able to provide tutoring for students with exams scheduled.
We worked hard to provide emergency food supplies, masks and sanitiser to children and their families. Children and families were taught how to keep safe as well as money management. All while trying to reduce panic and sustain a sense of community and care.
Two community kitchens were established in collaboration with local churches and community groups to feed thousands of children and families. Nursing mothers were prioritised for nutritious meals and support while feeding babies and young children. Fresh water was delivered daily.
One of our teachers worked with health care workers to provide support throughout the pandemic to date. Your donations also helped us rent houses in the community to isolate COVID positive people and help stop the spread.
Update from Anju in Nepal
In Nepal there have been 804, 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 11,277 deaths reported to the World Health Organisation. Nepal’s tourism sector generating 2.7 billion AUD and supporting over 1 million jobs, has been hardest hit by the pandemic. The economic downturn has reversed recent positive trends in reducing poverty and highlighted health inequalities and social disparities. Lock down curfews, isolation, quarantine and social distancing has affected physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
Forget Me Not is established as an International Non Government Agency in Nepal and we partner with local charity The Himalayan Innovative Society. Together we are building stronger families and educating communities about the dangers of orphanage trafficking and the harms of institutionalisation. FMN Country Director Anju Pun reports from Nepal.
We worked tirelessly to trace the families of every single child in our care and have been working in Nepal for over a decade now strengthening relationships with government, non-government, social welfare organisations and businesses.
COVID-19 forced our communications with children and families to go ‘virtual’. We call regularly to find out how they are coping and what help they need. We have provided food and basic necessities and worked with local authorities to ensure help is going where it’s needed most. We’ve been advocating for emergency relief and education support for children and families no matter where they live in Nepal. Every effort has been made to work with local government and non-government organisations to protect children from trafficking and bring their collective attention to child protection during the pandemic.
Your donations have helped with emergency cash payments. Also many, many hours of counselling to children and families affected by COVID-19 to ensure their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
We’ve strongly urged operators to NOT send children home to their families without support and counselling. The demand for our expertise and assistance with child rescue and reunification has grown exponentially. We are being asked constantly to assist in reintegration work across the country.
Our team is working with the Nepal Government to keep an eye on social media accounts of orphanages posting unethical and illegal campaigns for funds using images of children against their wishes and best interest. The few tourists that are travelling through Nepal are being intercepted by our team informing them of the harms of orphanage volun/tourism and institutionalisation.
Our focus is to strengthen families, especially the wellbeing and protection of children.
Update from Patrick in Uganda
There have been 125,049 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Uganda, with 3,180 deaths reported to the World Health Organisation. A total of 2,378,171 vaccine doses have been administered.Ugandans living in poverty have experienced reduced access to primary health care. This has led to an increase in preventable deaths (e.g. childbirth) and an increase in deaths due to preventable diseases (e.g. malaria). The COVID-related increase in unemployment and job loss contributes to the country’s economic vulnerabilities and poverty.
In Uganda Forget Me Not has a strong focus on supporting the health, wellbeing and education of children and young people to be self-sustaining and chasing their dreams, filled with pride. Some children were returned home to their families after being rescued from an orphanage. The remainder are being raised by their grandmothers in kinship care. Project Manager Patrick Rhuweza reports from Uganda.
The Nanna Project enables children to stay home with their families and protected from orphanage trafficking. We also care for children rescued from an orphanage eight years ago. Our focus is emotional support and education scholarships.
We walk with children supporting their dreams and nurturing their souls while providing education, vocational skills and training.
Food has been hard to get due to COVID-19 so during lockdown we focused on food distribution according to family size. We ensured special foods and money for medication and transport to and from hospital was available to HIV and COVID positive children and their families. Families with land were provided with seeds to plant fruit and vegetables and other foods.
Your donations provide psychosocial support and a sense of respect to vulnerable children and their families. A female counsellor was engaged to work specifically with young women and girls to address family issues and sexual reproductive health issues.
We have been able to deliver school materials including uniforms to children. Two nursing students completed their studies and are now working on the front line of this pandemic. We are so proud.
We were able to build a Home for Life for one family.
The Forget Me Not team will keep supporting children and their families in India, Nepal and Uganda through the pandemic.
The mental health and wellbeing of staff and beneficiaries has been a priority during this time. We have allocated human and financial resources to various initiatives including counselling, education and training. We have supported individuals, families and communities through lockdowns, health scares, nursing loved ones, deaths including by suicide, working and schooling from home, and food insecurity.
We have also celebrated graduations, weddings, engagements and new babies!
We are a registered Australian charity, with very minimal administrative costs ensuring your money gets where it’s needed fast.
We act quickly to ensure families have the support they need when they need it the most.
Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a lot or a little. Everything helps. Thank you for your support.
Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia.
As far as possible, FMN requires all employees (including temporary, casual, fixed-term, part-time and full-time employees), directors, officers, contractors (including employees of contractors) volunteers, suppliers and consultants, to take the following precautions:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 2 metre (6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, or shaking hands with others.
- Make sure you follow good hygiene and encourage others to do the same. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, and disposing of used tissues immediately.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you are well enough to work but would like to minimise the risk of infecting others, ask your supervisor whether you can temporarily work from home.
- Keep up to date on the latest hotspots (cities or local areas where the pandemic or epidemic is spreading widely). If possible, avoid travelling to places – especially if you are more at risk.
- If you are or are likely to be contagious, notify your supervisor as soon as possible. It may be possible or necessary for you to self-isolate by staying at home until you recover.
- Seek medical advice promptly and follow the directions of your local health authority.
Our global teams can work from home when required. We provide as many of our usual services as we can. We are providing extra support to children and their families through technology, financial and food support.
For those of you in Australia
We recommend www.healthdirect.gov.au for the latest advice, information and resources about COVID-19. You can call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line 24/7 on 1800 020 080 or look up your state or territory public health agency at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts and if you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.
Australia’s National Mental Health Commission #InThisTogether campaign provides the following tips to stay mentally healthy during this pandemic.
Follow the facts
Watching, reading and listening to negative news in large amounts can make us feel more anxious. Take a break from the all-day news cycle and only follow factual information. www.headtohealth.gov.au
Talk, don't just type
Staying connected emotionally and socially is very important. Let’s actually talk, and not just type. Hearing familiar voices and seeing familiar faces will be critical in tackling isolation and difficult feelings – if you can, use your phones and computers to hear and see each other, and be heard.
For many, our daily routine has changed, and we need to set a new routine, especially in isolation. Keep good routines including sleeping, exercising and healthy eating. Ideally, block out some hours to stay offline, and lock in some time to connect with loved ones.
Take a break
Take regular breaks from work, news, phone calls and family demands. Your mind needs to rest and time to reboot to reduce anxiety and stress; You will benefit from ‘switching off’. Taking some time each day to do something that allows your mind to relax is good for your mental health. If you notice your breathing is short and shallow, there are apps that can help with controlling and slowing breathing and the mind. Smiling Mind is a free one for adults and kids.
Even the smallest amount of exercise has great benefits for your physical and mental health. Try not to sit in one place all day. If you can, go for a walk, run or ride outdoors by yourself. If you’re staying inside– YouTube is your friend with thousands of free exercise guides from stretching to high intensity.
Financial stress is real
Financial stress is a reality for many of us at the moment. It will have an impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Knowing this, and taking action will help you feel more in control. Talk to an expert, and seek help for your finances and your mental wellbeing.
Play your part
The most important thing is to remember that we can make a difference, and we are. Each day we are making a decision as to how we can safeguard and protect our family, our friends and our community. We can find ways to give our healthcare workers an extra buffer of protection. The daily decisions we make are now important – our individual acts have a powerful collective impact. We’re in this together and everyone has a part to play.
Keep kids communicating
Let children know it is OK to be worried, and talk about their feelings. If you’re a parent/carer, work with your children to establish new routines for the whole family. Help them to stay connected with their friends, and reserve special times in the day for fun activities. Challenge them and yourself to have ‘COVID-19 free talk time’. Please seek support for you or your children if you need to.
Staying at home can be lonely but there are things that can help. It’s more important than ever that you stay socially and emotionally connected even if you are physically distancing. Make a daily commitment to connect with families, friends and your communities. Be creative in the way you connect and help those who may not be technologically savvy to navigate connection during this time. Older people, families who live with violence and people who live alone, may feel overwhelmed and frightened at the moment. Please know there are people who can support you, so reach out and ask for help from friends, family, a trusted neighbour or from a support service.
Check in & be kind to yourself
Check-in with yourself and be kind. Some of us may be providing support to many people at the moment. Don’t forget that this is challenging for everyone and you need to take care of you also. Learn and practice new coping skills. Monitor how YOU are feeling and seek support when you need it. At this time of anxiety and concern, be kind to yourself.
Helpers need help too
Our essential workforce is under incredible pressure at the moment. They need our understanding and support. Let’s remember to thank them for the work they are doing. It is also critical that they seek support for their mental health when they are not coping.
Some people may live alone, and may not have close friends or family near them. We are all stronger when we build and maintain our local communities and culture, so let’s cast our net wide and get creative about building our connected communities.
Everyone of all ages is being challenged by COVID-19. Each of us will need to build new skills and need support in different ways to understand our feelings, and learn strategies to better cope with anxiety and uncertainty. Services are available to help everyone. For some of us who already live with mental ill health we will need more support at this time. Your treatment and care at the moment will be different, and it may involve using the phone and internet to connect with support.
Please do what you can to look after yourself, stay connected and reach out when you need to.