New Challenges Need New Solutions in a Global Pandemic
From sewing face masks to sermons via WhatsApp, NPH Nicaragua adapts to new roles in the fight to keep COVID-19 at bay.
April 20, 2020 - Nicaragua
The fight-or-flight response is a well-known concept in the field of psychology, describing how the human mind reacts when faced with danger. In the face of the current global pandemic, the NPH Nicaragua team is responding with a “fight” mentality to help stop the COVID-19 virus from entering the home and spreading among those living at Casa Padre Wasson. In doing so, the staff are adopting new roles that fall in line with protection and prevention protocols established by NPHI Medical Services, while also employing sustainable strategies like sewing face masks for public use.
According to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of 20 April there are 10 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and no deaths, which is relatively low compared to other countries in Central America. Nonetheless, NPH is working closely with Nicaraguan authorities to ensure that it is abiding by recommendations from government agencies around education and health.
Within Casa Padre Wasson, Dr. Silvia Echaverri, head of the medical department, has provided detailed health guidelines, while Yubran Quedo, an administrator in the home, has helped implement prevention measures and training so that staff understand their roles and responsibilities in the fight to keep COVID-19 out of the home.
In support of the clinic, Ana Jacoba Reyes, head of vocational training, and her team have produced 250 “home-made” face masks for local staff.
Posters noting COVID-19 prevention measures have been put up around the home, for example, at the entrance gates, clinic, school, administrative offices, and kitchen area. In addition, antibacterial soap and disinfecting hand gel have been distributed to different work areas. Under Dr. Silvia’s direction, some children and adolescents are taking vitamin supplements, with the aim of strengthening their immune systems. In compliance with a national directive issued by federal authorities, a guest house on the premises has been converted into a COVID-19 isolation space for suspected cases.
Certainly, new habits have entered the daily routine. Security ensures each visitor thoroughly washes their hands upon arrival to the home and when they leave. The wheels of NPH vehicles and visitor vehicles are fumigated upon entry to further protect the property. Meanwhile, in the school, teachers frequently review guidelines for proper handwashing with students, while also checking that children wash their hands at the beginning and end of the school day. Scheduled cleaning of classrooms, desks, bathrooms, and windows has increased significantly, as well as the cleaning of hallways and garden areas.
Both the social work and psychology departments offer support to the children through small group discussions about grooming and cleanliness, while children’s psychological programs continue as usual. Staff in some departments, however, such as farming, are staying away from Casa Father Wasson for two weeks or more to help prevent the spread of the virus inside the home.
"We have already separated NPH boys and girls from our community students. Our boys and girls take classes in their casitas, while the community students learn in school classrooms. These daily assignments help keep the kids’ minds occupied,” says NPH Nicaragua National Director Marlon Velasquez.
“Religious activities, such as the sacrament of the Eucharist, take place in the children’s casitas to avoid large assemblies of people. Our chaplain Father Fernando sends us the word of God through WhatsApp posts and audio messages, so that our caregivers can share it with the children,” Marlon explains. He adds that weekend recreational activities are staged in small groups of boys and girls, to further reduce crowd sizes in the home.
In the meantime, the caregivers are working hard to ensure the morale of the children remains high. “They understand what is happening; they are taking it seriously and encourage the children to do the same. Everyone is doing their best to follow the precautions. I’m proud of them. With God’s help, we shall get through this.”
Marlon concludes, “The children know about the situation in other countries and they send their love to the godparents and donors who are going through difficult moments. As our children have written in their banners to you, “stay strong” and “we are with you”. This is the message from the entire NPH Nicaragua family. And also, “stay at home.”
Please support our NPH homes during this time of need. Any help you can give is well received and accepted graciously. Please visit nph.org for more information.
Communications Officer, NPH Nicaragua