People in Need providing help amid coronavirus crisis

Photo: People in Need

Czech NGO People in Need has launched a public collection called SOS World to help people in the poorest countries of the world who were the hardest hit by the current coronavirus situation. The NGO has already been helping those affected by Covid-19 here in the Czech Republic, including children from disadvantaged backgrounds struggling with home education and remote schooling.

Photo: People in Need

I discussed the details with the director of People in Need, Šimon Pánek:

Šimon Pánek | Photo: David Sedlecký,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED
For the moment we have already launched some activities covering water sanitation, hygienic issues and basic health support in 13 out of 25 countries where we work, for example in Cambodia, Myanmar, Mongolia, but also in the Northern Syria, Iraq and Eastern Ukraine.

“So we are not planning to rush to any new countries, that wouldn’t make sense, but in the countries where we have country programmes and missions, it is of course very logic to give a helping hand.”

“And why are we offering to help? The Czech Republic is after all one of the most developed countries and until now it has handled the pandemic in quite an effective mode. “So there is a space and I think there is also an ethical and moral duty to ask people to donate money so as to shoulder at least a minimal part of the responsibility for what is happening in the developing world.”

People in Need have already launched a campaign to help people here in the Czech Republic who have been most impacted by the repercussions from the Covid-19 outbreak. So who are the groups most affected by the situation?

Photo: Štefan Berec,  Člověk v tísni
“In the Czech Republic in the fields we know and we are able to work in, the problems are getting deeper, quicker and more severe. I am talking for example about the on-line education of children from low-income families.

“Our expectation is that it is at least 10,000 kids who were completely cut off from any contact with their school and any education support. So through our branch offices we offered a helping hand to this type of families.

“In the long-term we expect that the number of unemployed people and households falling under the level of poverty will start to increase during the summer.

“We are now deciding to employ an additional 17 financial consultants who will be deployed in 17 countries where we are usually not active to offer the people free of charge financial consultations and help them, ideally, not to fall under the poverty line during the next six months. “

Photo: People in Need
And finally, part of the SOS Czechia campaign was also a public collection. How much money have you managed to collect so far?

“We have collected almost 20 million crowns, which is something like 800,000 US dollars, through the public appeal. We got another 400 thousand dollars from either foundations or the corporate sector.

“So our budget for the Czech Republic for the coming 12 to 16 months, which we fundraised from the public and from the business, is roughly 1.2 to 1.3 million dollars.”