COVID-19 Crisis: How have Gratitude Fellows and Alumni Responded?

The Covid-19 crisis has fundamentally changed the way organizations normally operate and communicate. Gratitude Fellows and Alumni have had to pivot how they help the children and youth in their communities. For some, it’s been a complete overhaul of their processes and plans, for others an expansion of their current services, while other Fellows and Alumni have had to shift to a partial or whole virtual approach. We’re excited to share their stories of how they’ve adapted to this ongoing crisis.

M-LISADA teaching their youths the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.

Expansion of Current Services

M-LISADA’s (2020 Gratitude Fellow) mission is to protect, heal, empower, and support Ugandan children and youth through music, life skills, and education. Their core services focus on educational programs that build psychosocial, literary, life skills, and vocational development. During this time, M-LISADA’s Uganda center has been acting as a shelter and drop off point for police who find children on the street.

Before COVID-19, Lagos Food Bank (2020 Gratitude Fellow) distributed food among 12 communities in Lagos, Nigeria. Since the onset of this pandemic, Lagos Food Bank expanded into 7 new communities, while still continuing to serve their original regions.To achieve this, they increased partnerships with 37 additional food suppliers. To date, over 10,000 families have received food during this crisis.

Overhaul or Change of Processes and Services

Some of Gratitude’s Fellows and Alumni have had to alter how they normally provide services. The government of Haiti initially shut down Meds & Food for Kids Haiti (2018 Gratitude Fellow) on March 20th. Their employees were able to successfully ask the Haitian government to reconsider; Meds& Foods for Kids produces and distributes fortified peanut butter, an essential treatment for malnourishment in children. They were able to reopen with increased employee safety precautions and have been in operation with no onsite foreigners for the first time ever; the St. Louis office supporting and helping to problem- solve issues via daily phone calls.

One of our 2020 Fellows,Devatop has adapted their TALKAM app, an innovative project that utilizes technology tools to monitor, track, and report human trafficking and human rights abuses, to increase reporting of gender based violence and trafficking during COVID-19.

Farmers in Haiti tending to peanut plants, part of MFK Haiti’s farmer training program.

Five Health’s Zoom COVID-19 hackathon with 8 Pakistani schools.

Partial or Whole Digital Approach

Five Health, another 2020 Gratitude Fellow, has been able to successfully take a virtual approach with morning Zoom meetings, training of school health professionals via videoconferencing, COVID-19 webinars for parents, and videos demonstrating handwashing for students. Recently, they hosted a virtual hackathon for schools to come up with solutions to problems they were facing with COVID. 40 participants from 8 schools across Pakistan learned from each others’ solutions and went home motivated and inspired to face their challenges.

We’re tremendously proud of all our Gratitude Fellows and Alumni for coming together and creatively developing new ways to continue providing or expanding service to their communities. We remain dedicated to supporting them and their much needed work.

During this time, Gratitude Network has also pivoted to continue and increase our support of our Fellows and Alumni. We have increased our avenues of connection for mentoring and collaboration. We have also conducted additional seminars on pertinent topics related to leading through crisis and we collected and regularly disseminated learning and support resources. Finally, our annual networking and learning event- the Leadership Summit will be held virtually, so that our entire Network can still collaborate and support each other.

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