Updated May 14

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread around the world, causing major upheaval in travel, business, supply chains and financial markets.

Because we know you are concerned about a lot right now, including students and the entire global community of LPGM, I want to update you on how the pandemic is affecting our programs and how your continued support is helping us respond as quickly and effectively as possible.

LPGM programs have been severely disrupted by the spread of the coronavirus.

Watch as LPGM executive director, Dan Ruth, talks with Pastor Jay Rudi at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church about COVID-19, education, and walking with partners together.

In India

The government of India has issued a nationwide lockdown through at least May 30. Schools and non-essential businesses have been closed, and all students in LPGM-sponsored boarding homes have been sent home.

In a typical year, students would begin returning to school from their summer vacation in June. We anticipate that schools won’t reopen before September this year.

Our partners in the Arcot Lutheran Church are:

  • Identifying families and individuals who are the most vulnerable during this time, including migrant workers, protected classes (e.g. Dalits, indigenous and tribal people), and other jobless people facing extreme poverty.
  • Providing vulnerable people with food, material resources and other emergency provisions.
  • Producing 1,000 face masks to be used by health and sanitary workers in Tirukoilur, the city where Siloam Boarding Home is.
  • Establishing an isolation ward for COVID-19 patients at a school that’s adjacent to the Kallakurichi Government hospital.
  • A school in the city of Salem will accommodating neighbors migrating from other states.
Students in a satellite center of the ALC Community College’s Tailoring program sew face masks that will be donated to health and sanitation workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ALC is also working with the government on future plans as the crisis unfolds, getting ready to use church and school buildings for isolation wards or other medical needs that may arise.

In Guatemala

Like in India, schools across the country in Guatemala have been closed and students have been sent home. Additionally, all colectivo transportation (buses, taxis, etc) have been suspended, which many people across Guatemala rely on daily.

At Community Cloud Forest Conservation, Rob and Tara have had to stop the weekly Kids & Birds programs for local students, but their campus is largely isolated and self-sufficient.

A number of student-staff have stayed on campus during this quarantine to continue working, earning an income, and doing agroecology work at CCFC.

At this point, CCFC is moving forward with plans for the WALC program in the fall, knowing there’s a possibility it’ll have to be postponed or suspended.

In Tanzania

While the numbers of COVID-19 are currently lower than other countires, Tanzania is also in a nationwide shutdown and students have been sent home from schools. We’re deeply concerned about the safety of some girls, particularly those who were part of the Safe House.

Dr. Msinjili and Mwangaza Partnership for Education are attempting to stay in personal touch with as many girls as possible during this time to check in and provide them whatever they may need, including transportation costs home.

In the Central African Republic

C.A.R. currently only has a small number of cases, but it’s quickly growing. Recent news reports have highlighted how vulnerable people there could be if the coronavirus spreads more.

For a sense of the scale of the plight of some developing nations, consider one of the most critical pieces of medical equipment used in treatment: the ventilator. The United States has some 160,000 ventilators, according to one estimate. Sierra Leone has 13. South Sudan has four. Central African Republic has three.

The Global Coronavirus Crisis is Poised to Get Much, Much Worse – The New York Times

A recent report from UNICEF highlighted that border crossings from Cameroon have been a source of new infections. This is particularly troubling, as the Lutheran Church in CAR (EEL-RCA) is centered in the region bordering Cameroon and is busy with traffic flow in and out of its neighboring country.

The people most affected

With our special focus on providing education for people on the margins — especially women and girls — we know that this crisis will disproportionately affect them, especially in places with closer social ties, greater levels of poverty, fewer resources and more fragile healthcare systems.

During this period, LPGM is continuing to support our partners and programs to ensure that all the women, girls, men and boys we serve have the resilience they need to get through this crisis and return to school in a safe and timely manner.

What LPGM is doing

  • LPGM staff in Minneapolis is in close contact with program and partner staff around the world to provide support and monitor the local situation.
  • We’re providing additional emergency funding to partners to be used during this time, in addition to providing continued program support for teachers and staff.
  • In our Minneapolis office we’re working and conducting meetings remotely, with individual staff stopping in the office to pick up mail or deposit donations as needed.
  • Following guidelines from the CDC, the WHO and the governor of Minnesota regarding office and work recommendations, both for our local office and our global partners.
A poster of "do's and don'ts" related to COVID-19, used by LPGM-sponsored boarding homes in the Kalrayan Hills of Tamil Nadu, India
A poster used by LPGM-sponsored boarding homes in the Kalrayan Hills of Tamil Nadu, India

How you might be affected

  • Communication with your sponsored student(s) will be delayed while schools are closed in India.
  • You may reach our voicemail instead of a person if you call our office number. We will be regularly monitoring voicemail to call you back as soon as possible.
  • Responding to emails, depositing checks and acknowledging your gifts may take longer than normal.

How you can help

  • Pray daily for the students and partners we serve globally, as well as for healthcare workers, scientists, government officials and all those who are working for the health and wellbeing of all people.
  • Write or send a photo to your sponsored student using the online form on our website. We’ll deliver your message as soon as students can return to the boarding homes.
  • Please give. More than ever, we need you. If you’re in a position to provide the most vulnerable of our neighbors with the necessary support they need, please make an additional gift today.

I know this is a difficult time for many of you, and I wouldn’t ask for more than you can give. But adequate funding ensures we can respond quickly and effectively to our partners’ needs. This crisis changes daily, and we’re working hard to ensure all people have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

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Give us this day our daily bread

In Luther’s Small Catechism, he describes “daily bread” in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer as inclusive of all those things we need to support a healthy life and body.

Today, we ask you to join with our global partners and pray for the healthy life and body of all people, especially those who are most vulnerable in this pandemic.

Please take a few minutes today to pray for wisdom, communication, and healing among all those involved with the fight against COVID-19.

Support this work

Your special gifts to Project Education India will help these and future programs that support the health and education of all the students who live and study in LPGM-sponsored boarding homes in India. Your ongoing funding helps us respond quickly and effectively as soon as needs arise.

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Author Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry

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