Archives For COVID-19

When I heard that a whole generation of economic progress could be lost because of COVID-19, what might have been an abstract concept felt personal.

Like kids across the country, my first grader, Addi, spent this spring learning from home. One assignment had her interviewing a family member, and she chose her grandpa: my dad. She carefully printed questions in her notebook—using her best phonetic spelling—and as FaceTime connected, I settled in to hear the stories I remember hearing as a child: my dad and his brothers chasing each other across farm fields, dad knocking an aggressive farm goose senseless in self-defense, his exasperated mother shooing six boys out of her kitchen with a rolling pin—or whatever else was handy.

Addi and I giggled over several of these same stories, but hearing them as an adult, many were tinged with a sadness and struggle I hadn’t remembered. Like when my dad told Addi about his family’s two-seater outhouse, how the brothers competed to be first in line for a weekly bath so the tub water would still be clean, how glasses of water turned to ice on bedside tables in the wintertime, how his parents saved every bit of extra money to buy each boy a second-hand bicycle one Christmas, how they rarely visited a doctor, and how his parents buried their only daughter and a son before their fifth birthdays.

It dawned on me: Not in a faraway country or too long ago, my dad grew up in poverty. Continue Reading…

A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Anthony Barton has always had a keen eye for unmet needs. As a child, he trudged up and down sandy beaches in Malibu selling ice cream to hungry surfers. In college, he noticed the mess generated by fraternity parties on campus and started a business cleaning up the trash left behind. After graduation, he noticed that a lot of bars and restaurants could also use a good cleaning. Knowing he had the experience to do something about it, Anthony launched his first wildly successful cleaning business—the A Specialist.

Several years ago, Anthony and his wife, Yolanda, sold the A Specialist and together launched a new cleaning business called SAFE Kitchens, with the goal of “creating a culture within commercial kitchens that is as risk and worry-free as humanly possible.”

Then COVID-19 struck, and 95% of their business evaporated as their clients in food services, aviation, and film shut their doors. Continue Reading…

We asked several leaders from around the HOPE network—Rwanda, the Dominican Republic, and Paraguay—to share how they are coming alongside the men and women we serve as they recover losses related to COVID-19 lockdowns and reopen their businesses.

Rwanda

Hear from Diane Uwamahoro and Isaie Ndayizeye, co-directors of the HOPE Rwanda savings group program.

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They work without contracts or the protection of labor laws. They drive taxis, sell vegetables, clean homes, take odd jobs in construction, collect garbage, and work in food services. Part of the informal sector, they nevertheless provide vital services around the world.

They are day laborers—women and men who depend on daily wages to feed their children that night. Day laborers take jobs as they find them, relentlessly pursuing employment to provide for their families. The BBC News reports that “most do not have access to pensions, sick leave, paid leave or any kind of insurance. Many do not have bank accounts, relying on cash to meet their daily needs.”

Not surprising then, in the wake of COVID-19 and economic shutdown, it is the day laborers who suffer the most. In a crisis, they are the most vulnerable, the most exposed—without safety nets or savings to fall back on. Continue Reading…

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re more aware than ever of the critical role that essential businesses—and the entrepreneurs running them—play. Across the HOPE network, men and women use their businesses to provide necessary goods and services, and as they do, they not only provide for their own families but often become known as leaders in their church and community. Continue Reading…

Misha Garnyk, Ukraine

In Ukraine, over 2,200 people have tested positive for COVID-19, with 98 deaths as a result of the virus. Like many countries around the world, the Ukrainian government has taken measures to limit the spread of COVID-19—closing schools, urging companies to have employees work from home, and ordering nonessential businesses to close.   Continue Reading…