COVID-19: Difficult realities “becoming even more challenging”

LWF staff in Minawao refugee camp, Cameroon. More than 90 percent of the 8,000 LWF field staff are from the countries they work in, and often part of the communities they serve. Photo: LWF/ A. Hillert
LWF staff in Minawao refugee camp, Cameroon. More than 90 percent of the 8,000 LWF field staff are from the countries they work in, and often part of the communities they serve. Photo: LWF/ A. Hillert

World Service director grateful for commitment and dedication of staff

(LWI) -The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) World Service director Maria Immonen has sent a letter to the staff in humanitarian and development operations, encouraging them during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“For all of you in the field this comes on top of many pre-existing crises that have already been a lot to deal with, and which have provided, and continue to provide, the original reason for us to have programs in the countries you are in,” Immonen writes. “Your day-to-day realities were difficult enough – and now they are becoming even more challenging.”

Staff rooted in communities

The letter has been shared with the more than 8,000 LWF World Service staff in 29 countries. A great number of the LWF staff are themselves refugees or incentive staff, and part of the communities LWF serves.

They continue to be on-site, working as much as lockdowns, movement restrictions and other quarantine measures allow. “We want to recognize the commitment and dedication each one of you is showing at this particular time,” Immonen writes. The letter also contains practical information on measures for staff well-being and support systems LWF provides especially for colleagues in hardship locations.

Remembering the origin of World Service

LWF country programs have observed the development of COVID-19 and prepared crisis scenarios since January. While a pandemic such as this is unprecedented, some programs already have experience in dealing with epidemics, the latest being cases of Ebola in Uganda, and Measles and Malaria in Burundi.

In Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East LWF is engaging in awareness-raising and information campaigns about the virus, hygiene and quarantine measures, and sometimes already distributing soap or disinfectant in refugee camps and settlements.

We are all part of this mission given to us, to respond to those who need our support, and we have been promised that God will be with us always.
Maria Immonen, director LWF World Service

The World Service director concludes her letter by reminding staff of the beginnings of the Department for World Service, which was created after the Second World War "to respond to desperation and need,” writes Immonen . “You, as my colleague, are part of this calling, whatever your faith background or none. I give thanks for each and every one of you.”

“We are all part of this mission given to us, to respond to those who need our support, and we have been promised that God will be with us always.”

 

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LWF World Service has issued a call for donations, to protect our staff and the communities we serve: https://www.lutheranworld.org/donate-covid19-impact-reduction