Austin is preparing and serving meals at Alternative School Centre in Red Deer, a school program that ABW has been supporting through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo submitted by ABW)

Lacombe’s A Better World Canada supports central Albertan kids

Charity helping families struggling to get groceries, pay utility bills and do online school

A Better World Canada continues to help dozens of Red Deer families struggling to get groceries, pay utility bills and do online school learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last several months, the Central-Alberta based international-development organization has been supporting the needs of schoolchildren at Alternative School Centre through Red Deer Public Schools.

Co-founder Eric Rajah says the charity was sponsoring meals during the school year, but once the coronavirus hit and the school was closed, it was discovered that families needed further help.

A number of those families were ineligible to receive COVID-19 government assistance programs, he said.

ABW has been providing groceries for about 65 families of children attending the school.

Rajah said that these children are typically living with extended family because their parents have found themselves in difficult circumstances. As well, ABW is working with other frontline organizations to find any Red Deer families struggling to pay utility bills.

“We contacted some of our partners from Halifax to Edmonton to see if there were specific needs,” Rajah added. “We had requests from some families who didn’t have small computers for their kids to take online classes.”

ABW is funding Chromebooks and recycled laptops.

The charity, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has been facing struggles of its own.

It has witnessed a dip in donations and has had to cancel humanitarian trips to East Africa.

Capital projects overseas are expected to be postponed until this fall. Some other initiatives continue, including physical rehabilitation for children, ongoing medical expenses and feeding programs.

When COVID-19 struck with boundless force in March, Rajah said that ABW moved swiftly to provide personal projective equipment in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

ABW was successful at finding supplies within outlying pharmacies. As well, it obtained inexpensive training kits through the World Health Organization office in Nairobi, Kenya. These kits were dispensed to medical staff so they could teach residents and business owners about social distancing, hand washing and other techniques to lower risks.

“Our biggest investment was in training the community,” Rajah said.

Soap and water stations were placed along routes of clinics and in communities overall.

One great thing to note, he added, is that African communities are generally more prepared for any health crisis such as this.

“They have these crises like ebola,” Rajah said. “They know how to get information to the people and how to at least limit the disaster.”

ABW’s quick actions have resulted in positive results. Health workers and the entire community of Naikarra, Kenya were so grateful to receive medical supplies and they now feel like they’re part of the world fighting this virus.

Milk and bread were given to feed 35 street children in another community.

ABW also supplied 107 families at Easter with maize flour, bar soap and other necessities which was so welcomed.

“It is something some have not seen in this world since they were born,” said John Hinga, a project manager in Kenya.

-Submitted by A Better World Canada

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