**Be sure you read through to the bottom for a new, fun video of the kids!!**
As I’m sure you know by now the DR has not been spared from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. There is a curfew in place and people are basically not leaving their homes. Baseball and school have been canceled for about a month and will resume no earlier than the middle of May although that will likely be pushed back as the numbers of cases and deaths have continued to rise. As of April 18th there were approximately 4,700 cases and 226 deaths in the country (population of DR is approximately 11 million). Barahona Province has not been hit hard and when I recently spoke with Dr. Cecil (a partner with Joshua 1:Nine through Rotary who is actually heading up the Barahona COVID ward) he said there had only been twelve cases and one death in the area so that is really good news.
The Dominican Republic has put in place a number of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 including:
- A national curfew that prohibits all traffic and movement of people from 5pm to 6am.
- Roadblocks have been set up at various points throughout the country prohibiting internal travel in the country.
- Events and public gatherings of all kinds suspended.
- Public transportation, including buses, shared minibuses (guaguas), metro trains, and cable cars have suspended services, limiting the public’s ability to move freely in urban areas.
- Cruise arrivals have been suspended at all ports and coasts.
- Effective at 6 am on March 19, the President of the Dominican Republic suspended the arrival of incoming passengers and has effectively closed the borders of the Dominican Republic for an initial period of 15 days. This suspension continues. While the President announced that outbound flights will continue to ferry foreigners out of the Dominican Republic to their home countries.
Please pray over safety for our community because there just isn’t the medical care available and our population is vulnerable given lack of nutrition and general well-being.
When the quarantine first started we asked staff to give out our bags of rice to families who needed it, even those families without kids on the team. With jobs stopped and no governmental support like we have for people here, food scarcity is a real problem in the community. The store in town is down to bare minimums and there is no information around when deliveries may be available again. We gave out all of the rice we had and were able to obtain a small amount more.
Unfortunately, with this new partial delivery we learned we will not be receiving our rice as expected going forward. The organization who provides rice to us for a decreased cost has ceased operations and at this point we do not know when they will open again. Once the new shipment has been given out we will begin to purchase rice locally, if it is available, and that is a bit “if”. Along with availability, the cost is an issue as it will be more expensive and the rice we have been providing is fortified, providing nutrients our underfed kids need. Local rice does not have this advantage which means more is required to provide the same amount of nutrition. If rice is not available locally to our staff we will have to find other ways to get the rice to Fondo Negro. This will have increased costs.
We have also committed to supporting all 5,000 residents of Fondo Negro as best we can, not just the families of the kids on the team. We now have an exponential increase in need which was not foreseen in our budgeting for 2020.
The Kitsap Great Give
Obviously, no one expected this global pandemic to arise and with supporting the kids in a time when we expected them to be in school as well as supporting other families in need in Fondo Negro we now have a shortfall in our projected budget.
This time is very scary. The burden on those of us who know, love and support these families is heavy. However, God is good all the time. We feel very fortunate to be part of The Kitsap Great Give which will take place on Tuesday April 21st. During this event, the Kitsap Community Fund will partially match all donations. The event itself takes place on Tuesday, but early giving is open and you can give now: https://www.kitsapgreatgive.org/profile/s/joshua-1-nine-ministries
Keep in mind, due to the CARES Act, all people can donate up to $300 in 2020 and use it as a tax deduction whether you itemize or not. With this in mind, giving through The Great Give will provide a partial match AND you will receive a tax deduction. This is the best time in the last few years to give, just when the need is at its greatest.
As always, we are thankful for our supporters. You are all in our thoughts and prayers as we work through this strange and uncharted experience. We pray you are healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand right now, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful.