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Southeast Asia Regional Update

One Year Later: No End In Sight

It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region. And even after a year, it continues to wreak havoc and the end is not in sight. In fact, the pandemic is hitting closer to home as we hear more family, friends, and coworkers getting infected with the virus.

Indonesia has spent most of the pandemic with the highest COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. With over 1.6 million cases reported, and despite the rapidly increasing number of cases, the government is in favor of reopening their economy to begin recovery. The Indonesian government has started their vaccination program last January at a very slow pace. Reports show a 2.4% vaccination progress in the whole country.

The Philippines is ranked second in Southeast Asia. Because of the alarming daily increase of COVID-19 cases reported, the Philippines government reinstated a stricter lockdown that mandates all households to observe strict home quarantine. Movements are limited to authorized persons outside residence, those accessing essential goods and services, and workers in establishments allowed to operate. Preparations for the vaccination rollout has begun, but the slow pace of acquiring has led to a timeline of three to five years to vaccinate 60 to 70 million of the 109 million Filipinos.

Although Myanmar was able to maintain one of the lowest cases in the region early on, the country’s underdeveloped healthcare system has impeded Myanmar’s ability to cope as cases in the country have begun to spike again. The ongoing coup and civil disobedience campaigns have caused great political and economic turmoil, and a delay in the roll-out of vaccines.

One Year Later: Digitization in Business, Training, and Mentoring

As we face the challenges of COVID-19, together with our partners, we are shifting our focus and approaches to adapt to the situation.

In Indonesia, we praise God for the successful roll-out of our Microenterprise Curriculum to six leaders of our LCI GBI Sawangan – DMR9 Farm. The training was all done online over a period of 10 weekends. We have received so many positive responses from the participants and they are all excited to be able to apply their learnings to their own businesses as well as pass it on to others. We are now preparing for the second batch of trainees which we hope will include members of the GBI church.

In the Philippines, we are thankful that we were able to conduct a three-day in-person Train the Trainers of the Microenterprise Curriculum for our partner Samaritana Transformation Ministries, Inc. The training was participated by eight staff of Samaritana, two youth entrepreneurs, and eight survivors of sex trafficking. Tied to this event we hosted our first virtual exploratory trip, which was designed to introduce the partnership of Partners Worldwide and Samaritana, and provide for them the opportunity to volunteer or become a Business Affiliate.

Understanding that the pandemic has not only impacted our partners businesses and operations, but also their staff’s wellbeing and capacity to cope, we have hosted webinars to address this. We invited experts to help facilitate webinars on topics like creating margins, stress management, and mental health.

One Year Later: Finding Ways to Connect

Despite the prolonged and continuous impact of the pandemic, we continue to find ways to connect and serve our partners in the region. Our partnership managers are hard at work in regularly meeting with our LCI leaders and Business Affiliates via different online platforms: Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger, and Signal.

These meetings are venues for us to strategize and plan with our partners. More than that, it’s an opportunity for us to come together in prayers – encouraging one another and entrusting the situation to our heavenly Father who knows and cares.

As we watch the news and hear stories on how this pandemic is causing deaths, disorder, and destruction, we continue to embrace our calling and walk alongside our partners during these uncertain times. We thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement.

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