The coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly everything about the way we live. With access to friends and family confined to virtual visits, it's easy to feel isolated. And when people are suffering in your own community, it's natural to want to get out there and help. But guidelines telling people to stay at home have mostly limited hands-on volunteering options.
That doesn't mean you can't make a difference. Today is #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving when people around the world are rallying to fight the new coronavirus through donations and action. Billions of vulnerable people desperately need help. And as in any crisis, the young and most vulnerable are especially in danger.
“Not only are children and young people contracting COVID-19, they are also among its most severely impacted victims," says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. Lockdowns and school closures are affecting their education, mental health, and access to basic health services. The risks of exploitation are higher than ever, for boys and girls alike. "Unless we act now to address the pandemic’s impacts on children," warns Fore, "the echoes of COVID-19 will permanently damage our shared future."
Right now, UNICEF is working in more than 80 countries to stop the deadly infection. Our global warehouse is on overdrive, packing and shipping supplies to protect children, their families and the health workers risking their own lives to save others. But UNICEF needs $651 million to fight this worldwide threat. So far, we've only raised a small fraction of that, leaving families, doctors and nurses vulnerable to this highly contagious virus.
How to donate money to coronavirus relief
When you donate money online to UNICEF USA, you can be sure your support will have maximum impact. For over 70 years, UNICEF’s relentless engagement in the world’s toughest places has helped create remarkable progress for children by delivering low-cost, high-impact solutions that save lives. During emergencies, UNICEF takes the lead to provide families with safe water, sanitation and hygiene to meet their daily needs and stave off deadly diseases. These programs, which have saved millions of lives, are now central to combatting the novel coronavirus. Your donation to UNICEF will help continue that work and support the many other ways UNICEF is:
- Promoting social distancing, handwashing and other lifesaving hygiene measures
- Providing health workers with the masks, gloves, goggles, boots and other protective gear they need to diagnose and treat the sick
- Ensuring that the pandemic doesn’t keep women, children and vulnerable communities from such essential health services as vaccines that guard against other deadly threats like measles
- Keeping children learning and protecting them from the heightened risk of violence and abuse caused by the pandemic’s disruption to social services
- Collecting data on the pandemic's secondary threats to children and women to stay one step ahead of new dangers
Start a GoFundMe coronavirus fundraiser
In-person volunteering is mostly, for now, pretty tough. But there are plenty of ways you can volunteer virtually and make a difference. Launching an online fundraiser is a great way to start. UNICEF USA has formed a partnership with GoFundMe, so you can get your friends, family and coworkers involved, too. GoFundMe, the global leader in online social fundraising, is easy to use, and UNICEF USA has already created a campaign for coronavirus you can activate with the click of a button.
Getting started is easy:
- Go to the COVID-19 page
- Follow a few simple steps to set up your free GoFundMe account
- Scroll down to the “Featured Fundraisers” section of the homepage and select the Coronavirus Response campaign
- Customize your page by naming your team, setting a fundraising goal and uploading a photo, then add your pitch for why supporting UNICEF is the best way to help
- Share your fundraiser with your friends, family and social network
How you can help coronavirus victims
Those who are sick and dying from coronavirus aren't the only victims. Some of the very measures helping to control the outbreak are hurting children. More than 188 governments have closed schools, denying over 1.5 billion learners access to formal education. Other restrictions to stop the spread — canceled flights and lockdowns — have also made reaching kids in need more difficult. Already, delayed measles immunization campaigns in 24 countries mean that over 117 million children must wait to get their lifesaving measles vaccine.
Dr. Robin Nandy, UNICEF's chief of immunization, explained the delicate balance UNICEF must strike. “In our quest to vaccinate kids, we shouldn’t contribute to the spread of Covid-19,” he told the New York Times. “But we don’t want a country that is recovering from an outbreak to then be dealing with a measles or diphtheria outbreak.”
Become a monthly donor
The good news is that thanks to UNICEF's monthly donors, a well-stocked global supply hub in Copenhagen means UNICEF can get supplies anywhere in the world within 72 hours.
Even before the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency, UNICEF had rushed the first shipment of 6 metric tons of medical supplies to the front lines. To date, UNICEF has delivered almost 6 million protective items to health workers.
As for restarting immunization campaigns once it's safe, UNICEF vaccines are plentiful, and Fore is urging governments to be ready:
“UNICEF strongly recommends that all governments begin rigorous planning now to intensify immunization activities once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control."
How to protect refugees from coronavirus
Social distancing, handwashing and respiratory hygiene are the best defenses against the coronavirus. But in crowded refugee camps, from Bangladesh to Jordan, these preventative measures aren't easy — and may be impossible — to practice.
- In Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, any infectious disease can spread like wildfire in the overpopulated camps that are home to 850,000 Rohingya refugees. UNICEF is delivering essential supplies, providing safe water and soap for around 240,000 people, over half of whom are children
- In Jordan, which has taken in nearly 750,000 refugees, UNICEF helps keep the water flowing in camps and provides lifesaving health services, cleaning supplies, soap, water and other hygiene essentials to displaced families. UNICEF is also helping health facilities procure ventilators and other medical supplies
- In Syria, UNICEF has found ways around the COVID-19 travel restrictions to provide therapeutic food and treatment to malnourished children living at a refugee camp in Ar-Raqqa. Teams visit the camp that provides refuge for 8,000 people three times a week to ensure children's safety and lessen the impact on their learning, health and nutrition
Speak out for refugees
For dozens of countries that harbor refugees and displaced families, UNICEF has thorough, on-the-ground support. But many of these programs depend on donor support, and without it, children are at risk.
Now more than ever, we count on our donors to continue supporting our mission for those with nothing and no one – despite these difficult times. — UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
“Now more than ever, we count on our donors to continue supporting our mission for those with nothing and no one – despite these difficult times,” says Fore.
Stopping the spread of infectious disease is UNICEF's specialty — a top priority in every emergency and a key objective of UNICEF's water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs. If you'd like to get the word out about how UNICEF is helping families and children who are most at risk, please follow @UNICEFUSA on social and share our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.
Other ways to provide relief to those fighting coronavirus
School’s out, maybe even for the rest of the year. If you’re trying to work from home, supervising your child’s learning while staying productive is tough. For kids, these are scary times without the distraction of friends, school, sports and any other activities that kept them on the go.
Everyone's going a little stir crazy. But what if you could burn off all that pent-up energy as a family — while also saving lives around the world?
Do a Kid Power Up
UNICEF Kid Power is a free digital platform that offers Kid Power Ups — fun and engaging videos that will get your kids moving, dancing, stretching, even practicing yoga. The best part: With UNICEF Kid Power, kids actually help save lives. Every time children do a Kid Power Up, they help unlock therapeutic food packets that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished children around the world. The more children move, the more lives they help save!
Teachers use Kid Power Ups in their classrooms to give students “brain breaks” throughout the day. Now, families can stream them at home to help their children get the hour of daily activity they need for healthy bodies and minds. At the end of a long day, you may even want to queue one up and unwind together!
When so many things are out of kids' control, knowing that they can make a big difference in another child's life will make a big difference to them, too.
Top photo: A nurse takes a girl’s temperature at a health care center in Beirut, Lebanon. Since February, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country, UNICEF has procured and delivered medical supplies to 194 such centers. © UNICEF/UNI317998/Choufany