COVID-19 and South Africa’s Most Vulnerable Communities

April 8, 2020

Dear Hope Africa Family,

While words feel scarce in this surreal time, I want to transparently share with you a brief update on how Hope Africa Collective is navigating this season.

View a special message from our Executive Director, Terry Hilliard.

The President of South Africa mandated a strict 21-day nationwide lockdown, so for the time being our base is closed and our programs are paused. However, our mission to end poverty through empowerment and opportunity is even more crucial at present.

Due to the nation’s infrastructure challenges, unemployment rates, and poverty levels, most of our staff and students do not have access to internet at home. For this reason, we are limited in being able to offer remote or virtual access to our programs. Our staff members who are able are working remotely from home. Those who can’t execute their typical roles from home are working hard in other ways right now. As basic mobile phones are widely used, our team is creatively leveraging that resource during this time, actively utilizing WhatsApp, texts, and calls to:

  • Provide encouragement, resources, and assistance to our network of pastors and church leaders
  • Check in, offer prayer support, and share available government assistance options with our students
  • Share online resources, medical/health materials provided by the government, kids’ devotionals, and other tools with our staff

We are continuing to pay our entire staff team at this time. In an effort to retain our whole team for as long as possible, all staff have taken a 15% salary cut and we’ve reduced our overall ministry budget by 41%. Sustainability is vital and we are doing all we can to ensure we can weather this storm together.

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt by everyone, everywhere, it poses a significant threat in developing world nations.

The high density in township areas, the large percentage of the population who are immunocompromised (with high prevalence of HIV and TB), and the unique challenges faced by those living in extreme poverty make South Africans increasingly vulnerable. Adequate social distancing is impractical in the township of Philippi (where most of our staff and students live), as the majority of households consist of 5-8 people living in small one- or two-room houses. Lack of running water makes frequent handwashing, our first and best line of defense, an impossibility. With these tight quarters, less-than-adequate hygiene opportunities, and weakened immune systems, it’s not difficult to imagine the devastation that COVID-19 could cause.

Our staff, students, and the communities we love and serve are at tremendous risk right now.

Will you support us with your prayers? We would so appreciate your prayers for: 

  • Wisdom, guidance, and strength
  • Protection for staff, students, and our communities
  • Open doors as we pursue innovative ways to serve those in need
  • Continued support to launch new avenues of empowerment and employment, both now and following the pandemic

We also recognize that you are likely experiencing a direct or indirect impact of COVID-19 right now as well. If that’s the case, please hit reply on this email and let us know how we can support you and your family in prayer. While we pray for all our partners, our staff team would appreciate the opportunity to pray specifically for you and your needs in this season.

We are so grateful for you and your partnership. We are standing with you and appreciate the ways you are standing with us. We will get through this together, with the strength, hope, and peace only God can provide.

In Christ,

Terry Hilliard
Executive Director

Two of our HAC staff members, Thulani and Ziyanda, quarantined at home with their two children (and one more on the way!)

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COVID-19 and South Africa’s Most Vulnerable Communities