Life Under Lockdown

Millions around the world are in some sort of a lockdown because of COVID-19. In order to stop the further spread of the virus, people have been told to stay at home, establishments have been closed (except for essential businesses), schools have been cancelled, and people were asked to work from home.  
The entire Luzon Island of the Philippines has been put under enhanced community quarantine since March 17. As a result, Legazpi City, where we are located, closed its borders from neighboring towns. Classes were suspended and work stoppage was announced. City officials are enforcing a curfew from 8:00pm – 5:00 am. Only one person per household is allowed to go out, for three hours only, and that person can only purchase basic necessities. Soldiers have put up checkpoints throughout the city, and sirens and announcements can be heard now and then. 
While we (the staff members of Tiwala) are quarantined in our homes, we continue to pray and think of the children and families to whom we minister. We are concerned about our beneficiaries because they are very vulnerable to the disease and the economic consequences that the health crisis brings. The reason for this is that they live in crowded slums with little or no access to running water, and around ten families have to share one common toilet. They stay in one-room houses that are not well-ventilated and are cramped, making the isolation and social distancing principles almost impossible to observe.  Moreover, the majority of the families rely on daily income as porters, sidewalk vendors, and construction workers. Because of the work stoppage, however, they are unable to earn a living and put food on the table. Although the government promised to provide assistance through food packages and cash aid, the help is taking a while to reach the poor. One of our beneficiaries voiced her fear that it’s most probably hunger that will kill them first rather than the virus. 

In the midst of all the fear and anxiety, we are grateful that the pandemic has not dampened the generosity of our partners. We are thankful that last week a number of our donors have sent donations for emergency assistance to our beneficiaries. As a result, around 40 families were able to purchase food and other essentials they need. Also, through the help of several friends of Tiwala, we were able to distribute around 200 anti-COVID kits (alcohol, soap, toilet paper, covid-19 brochure). Prior to the lockdown we were also able to conduct an information drive in five communities about COVID-19 and how to curb its spread. 

Although we are unable to be with our beneficiaries these days, we remain in contact with them through text messages, sending not only practical tips on COVID-19 prevention but also Bible verses to remind them to continue to put their trust in the Lord and ask His help during these difficult times. 
We do not know how long the mandatory lockdown will last and how far-reaching the impact will be to the communities we serve. It can be overwhelming at times to listen to the forecasts and news about the pandemic. But we daily choose to put our hope and faith the Lord. 
We pray too that you and your family are safe and sound, and that you are continuing to trust in the Lord’s goodness and mercy during these uncertain times. Let us continue to ask for His divine help. May His protection, wisdom, provision, and peace be upon us all. 
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16