COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS
“This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds: “Borrowing a line by British writer, Damian Barr: “We may be in the same storm, but we are in different boats”.
That is the reality of Covid. All of us have experienced pain and difficulty through the pandemic. Those working in the humanitarian sector are seeing need deepened on many levels: medical provision, of course, but also their economy, education system, nutrition and, ultimately, infrastructure.
Much as we have longed to help, our work too, of course, has been made harder because of Covid too, so it is something of a vicious circle. Two of our three services were ‘hit’ by the pandemic. The one less impacted is Global Hand.
As this service is always handled remotely, it did not need adjustment when the pandemic struck. People use it to offer goods which they would like given to non-profit groups. They offer these goods on our website, www.globalhand.org and we then, help them look for a ‘match’.
Matches made over this time include:
- Reuseable face masks donated in the UK given to projects in Sri Lanka, Nigeria and
- School furniture from Ohio, USA now helping refugees in Iraq
- Specialised medical equipment from the Netherlands sent to a clinic in Romania
- Thousands of Crocs shoes given to NGOs for projects in Singapore, Australia and South Korea
- Water purification tablets donated in the UK, matched with water access projects in rural Nigeria
- Sleeping bags and warm clothing collected in the UK, helping refugees in the Greek islands
- Hundreds of new pieces of clothing donated from within Uruguay to a project less than an hour away
GOODS MATCHED IN-COUNTRY
An ideal way to use Global Hand is to find, when possible, people within the same country. That saves the challenges of logistics as goods can be moved about internally.
The one challenge we met, over this period, because of Covid, was lockdown. It was heart-breaking to be offered goods in a country where nobody was permitted to get them. Right here in the UK, for example, we ‘lost’ offers of goods, in various locations, because nobody was permitted to drive into other areas to collect them during lockdowns.
GOODS MATCHED INTERNATIONALLY
Another way to use Global Hand is international placement: ie goods in one country that are matched with NGOs in another. Businesses give stock for many reasons but, over this time particularly, they have been glad to find good homes for stock stranded by Covid, which they don’t want to go to landfill but which generate storage costs, otherwise.
Another challenge we have met is related less to Covid and more to Brexit, with logistics bringing uncertainties for both donors and recipients. Some cargoes had been held up at borders with various parties unsure about current guideline, as these evolve. It has brought a degree of reticence, at this time, to take on donated goods. Hopefully, these issues are being resolved.