Pelline Kemunto was overjoyed when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. In the crowded slum where she lives in Nairobi, Kenya, pregnancy and childbirth don’t always have such happy endings.
But soon after she got the baby settled at home, the novel coronavirus began sweeping across the world. Suddenly it was more than her son’s cries keeping her awake at night — the fear and uncertainty about the pandemic were overwhelming.
Kemunto found herself facing a difficult decision. A nurse told her that she needed to take her son for his checkup and a measles vaccination in order to keep him healthy … but Kemunto was afraid of going to the health center and being exposed to COVID-19. How could she know which option was safer for her family?
Poverty leads to impossible choices
Kemunto lives in one of the largest slums in the world. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, far too many mothers and children got sick, died too soon or faced a lifetime of complications that easily could have been prevented — simply because they were poor and couldn’t get the care they needed.
And now, because they fear COVID-19, fewer and fewer of Kemunto’s neighbors are willing to visit health centers for the essential care that could save their lives. That means fewer people are being tested and treated for HIV, in a city where infection rates are among the world’s highest. Fewer children — like Kemunto’s son — are being screened for malnutrition or vaccinated against deadly childhood diseases. Fewer mothers are receiving prenatal care or delivering their babies in a safe environment.
For people who live in one of the world’s poorest communities, contracting COVID-19 is only the beginning of the risks they face during a pandemic. The crisis is only making them worse.
Love creates lifesaving solutions
So many tragedies are preventable when caring people take action to love their neighbors. Your generosity allows Lutheran World Relief to get creative in how we care for our most vulnerable neighbors around the world, even among the many challenges of COVID-19.
When you say YES to loving your neighbors like Kemunto and her son, you bring the health center to them. Right now, your love is empowering health workers to set up outdoor, socially distanced health clinics at schools and churches in the community so that pregnant women, mothers and children can access critically needed health services — without being exposed to potentially sick patients at health centers.
In Colombia, your love is flowing from the tap to promote healthy handwashing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities that have no other options for obtaining clean, safe water.
Your love is reaching deep into the lush, green mountains of El Salvador, transforming farming cooperatives that were once used to sustain coffee growers into supply and information-sharing resources to help keep their families healthy and their farms productive.