KIND works with partners to respond to the needs of children and families in Central America amid COVID-19 crisis

These organizations are addressing the immediate needs of these children and families by supplying them with food baskets and kits with masks and other hygiene supplies, while also developing strategies to support their long-term well-being.  For example, in response to hunger and malnutrition, problems that are intensifying in the pandemic, Asociación Pop No’j is launching a project in the community of Santiago Chimaltengo, Huehuetango that draws on local resources and knowledge to promote sustainable agriculture and increase food security. The project gives direct food assistance to vulnerable children and families while also providing them with seeds, tools, and technical support to cultivate fast-growing and nutrient dense foods in home gardens.

ECAP distributes emergency food supplies to children and families in Quiché, Guatemala. Photo credit: Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial, ECAP.

In addition, organizations are sharing information on health precautions, human rights, and violence prevention amid the pandemic. ECAP has produced and distributed radio announcements on public health and gender-based violence prevention in Ixil, an indigenous language spoken in the Nebaj area of the Quiché department of Guatemala. Honduran partner Casa Alianza has also used radio and social media to continue to educate youth and families on gender-based violence prevention and how those affected by violence can seek help in times of mandatory lockdown.

KIND’s partners have also adapted their programming to provide group and individual psychosocial support to children and families to help them handle the stress, anxiety, and depression provoked by the current health and economic crisis. CASM, which supports returning migrant youth and their families in Honduras, has provided workshops for parents in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to share their feelings and experiences and learn skills to improve communication and conflict resolution during the lockdown.

Abigail Balderramos, psychologist at CASM, explained the benefits of these workshops, stating, “Mothers and fathers have learned techniques to relax and manage stress. Their anxiety levels have decreased, and their relationships with their children have improved. In the workshops, parents have the opportunity to share their fears, difficulties, and problems. The simple fact of being listened to and understood by someone who shares their situation helps to reduce stress and increase wellbeing . . . Parents have gained skills to manage their frustrations with the parts of the current situation that they cannot predict or control.”

Colectivo Vida Digna, a Maya organization in Quetzaltenango dedicated to supporting youth, women, and families to fulfill their potential and guide the growth of their communities, has adapted existing economic empowerment programming for girls and young women to respond to the COVID crisis while also supporting indigenous identities. The organization has worked with girls and young women and their families in the Quetzaltenango area to design and produce face masks, using materials and techniques drawn from local textile traditions. The masks will be used by participants, their families and community members. The masks will also be sold to local and international markets, with profits going to participants. Twenty-seven families have participated in this entrepreneurial activity.

For KIND, this crisis has reinforced the importance of working closely with local partners and seeking out flexible and creative solutions to address the vulnerabilities migrant children and their families face.

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Originally published by Kids in Need of Defense: Source

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