The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of change, not only to our organization, but to most parts of the world.
The Current Situation in Clarkston, GA
The refugee community is afraid. Prior to arrival in the United States, refugees had lived through tragedy. Many of them lost loved ones to wars, genocides, famine or natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought back painful memories for these families and triggered a great deal of anxiety.
Residents of the 1.5 square mile city of Clarkston have a high risk of infection. A majority of the refugees work in the meat plants. We are not sure of the precautions and safety measures taken by these plants. Their only mode of transportation to work is a shared ride (vanpool) with a dozen other people. After a 10 to 12-hour shift at work, they return home to a tiny apartment that houses an average of seven people. We have been informed that there are several reported cases of COVID-19 in the apartment complexes, so we are taking extra precaution in our service delivery.
· DeKalb County schools closed their buildings and transitioned to distance learning effective March 16. Children were already struggling to perform in school, so distance-learning posed a new set of challenges for them. The whole family was impacted:
· Working parents had to stay home and watch their children, thereby losing income.
· Single parents who could not afford to leave their jobs often left young children unsupervised at home.
· Distance learning instructions were unclear to parents due to language barriers.
· These language barriers made it impossible for refugee parents to assist their children with school work.
· Children with limited access to technology were no-shows to virtual classes and have not been able to complete schoolwork online.
· Children who relied on schools to provide breakfast and lunch on weekdays were at a high-risk of facing food insecurities.
· Households with COVID-19 patients are afraid to go out for food or essential items.
What we are doing to help with the COVID-19 Situation
Thanks to our volunteers and supporters, we have been able to provide some relief to the refugee community and American families.
· When schools closed, we reached out to our afterschool families to find out how they were doing and what we could do to assist them. We also contacted the schools on their behalf to find out what the students needed to be doing at home. Some students needed to print school assignments for two weeks but had no access to printers.
· We are providing secure computers to families in need so that children can participate in virtual classwork.
· In early March, we provided food items, diapers, and household supplies to families in Clarkston and Stone Mountain to help them prepare for the quarantine period. Each kit contains Tylenol, cough drops, masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, facial tissues, Gatorade, and food.
· Families are being notified of the DeKalb County food truck delivery times and locations in their languages.
More Ways We Would Like to Help
· FHF would like to provide rent assistance to five struggling families in Clarkston for one month.
· We would like to purchase a new fridge and freezer to store food.
· We receive dairy products, fresh produce, and frozen foods from donors and the Food Bank.
Thank you for giving and supporting our efforts as we work to bring relief to the vulnerable ones in our community.