Of course, this global COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation for all of us, and that includes the children supported by the Alalay Foundation in Bolivia.
According to the Bolivian Ministry of Health, as of yesterday (3rd April) there were 139 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country and 8 deaths (5 in Santa Cruz – the city in which our kids live, and 3 in La Paz, where Alalay also works), although sadly we suspect the real numbers will soon be much higher, as in the rest of the World. Bolivia is in serious lockdown to try to stop the spread of the virus: one person per household (aged 18-65) is allowed outside to buy food (between 7am-midday) one day per week, all public/private transport is prohibited (except health/security transport), and there are fines/imprisonment if rules are violated (read more about further restrictions HERE).
Although our children and staff team in Santa Cruz are currently all well and safe, we were deeply saddened to learn of the death of the husband of Mrs Claudia Gonzales (Alalay Foundation Founder/Executive Director) from COVID-19. He had recently returned from a trip to America, developed serious symptoms and was unable to access a respirator in time – his passing highlights the challenges in the Bolivian healthcare system to be able to deal with the pandemic. Click HERE for an interview with his family (in Spanish), plus read further reports about the situation in Latin America HERE (Spanish) and HERE (English). We send our sincere condolences to Claudia, her family and all at Alalay at this sad time.
We at Friends of Alalay continue to be in constant contact with the Alalay Foundation, and already plan to send additional emergency funds to Bolivia in case the situation worsens and medical supplies, transportation costs or other unforeseen activities are needed. As always, we will inform our supporters of any updates as soon as we can via this website and our Facebook page.
Alalay staff recently shared the following update with us:
“Thank you very much for your message of support to Claudia and all those at Alalay. We also thank you for caring about our boys and girls. Thanks to God, all of our boys and girls are currently healthy, following the quarantine rules in the aldea (out-of-town centre where the majority of the children live) and also following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines developed by Alalay. At the moment we have enough food, hygiene and cleaning products for everyone. Our next food shop is on the 15th April, and we are taking all of the necessary preventative measures for this activity. We are very grateful for your concern and we hope from the bottom of our heart that everyone is well there”.
Fortunately, the aldea has ample outdoor space so the children don’t feel locked in, and a variety of recreational, sporting and schoolwork activities are being organised by our fantastic house parents.
Our staff team is also protecting themselves and following the quarantine rules. Some staff are working from home rather than coming in daily to reduce risk to the children. But the house parents are, of course, staying with the children and doing an amazing job. Office-based staff keep in touch with them every day to find out how they are, if they need anything, and support them. Although Bolivia is in complete lockdown and all public transportation and private car use is prohibited, Alalay have special permission from the authorities to continue with their work.
Our thoughts remain with our Alalay family in Bolivia, plus the thousands of children, young people and adults living on the streets who cannot #stayathome and are already in a truly precarious and vulnerable situation. We hope to be able to somehow still support them too.
On a final more positive note, we told the Alalay kids about the current worldwide trend for people to display rainbows in their windows as a signal of hope, solidarity and support to key workers, and in just a few hours the Alalay children painted some beautiful rainbows of their own! We will share some of their designs over the coming weeks to keep us all (Alalay supporters, staff and kids) motivated around the world that —-> “all united we will beat this”.
🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈 🌈