Our Secretary General Ulrika Norberg writes about the current situation in South Africa and the importance of Star for Life’s work in the days to come.
It is six months since the World Health Organization declared a global emergency and today the pandemic is raging all over our globe. South Africa is one of the hardest hit countries – and as so often is the case in crises, it is the already vulnerable who are worst affected.
– The situation is very tough right now, says Mrs Thandeka Mabaso, Star for Life’s Executive Director.
The spread of the infection is constantly accelerating, and President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced the government decision to close schools again. There will be no classes until August 24, with a few exceptions. The Grade 12 students are away for a week, and then return to school on August 3.
– I realize that this is a big disappointment for many students who want to return to school, Ramaphosa said in his speech to the nation. But we are doing this to be sure that the schools do not become sources of infection at a time when the number of victims is rapidly increasing.
During the fall, South Africa had a total lockdown. No one has been allowed to move freely outdoors, virtually all businesses have been closed down and the sale of alcohol and tobacco has been banned. The restrictions eased somewhat a few months ago and teaching began for most students in early June. During this period Star for Life staff have been working with health and education authorities to spread knowledge about the coronavirus:
– Our team has held various workshops for both teachers and students, says Thandeka Mabaso. We address the physical as well as the mental aspects of Covid-19, and talk about the anxiety and stigma that can come with the disease.
At present, almost 500 000 people have tested positive and more than 7,200 have died (with more than 300 000 recovered) . There is no shadow of a doubt that the poorest will be hardest hit by the pandemic. Since the last quarter of 2019, the South African economy has been in recession and, between February and April alone, three million South Africans lost their jobs. Most of them are women. Without income, livelihoods disappear and families who are already living on the edge end up in a hopeless situation. Those who already have a disease are at risk of being hit even harder by Covid-19. In other words, the virus is raging relentlessly in South Africa, where 20 percent of the adult population has hiv.
All in all, this means that support for children and young people is more important than ever when they finally return to the classroom. Star for Life coaches are available in schools to provide learners with strength, encouragement and guidance – and the need will be enormous. It goes without saying that when the virus keeps the world in an iron grip, the youngest need our help to regain their security and faith in the future.You can support our work by making a contribution below. Every krona counts!