Honduras and Jubilee COVID-19 Update

April 10, 2020
We want to thank you so much for your generous support for our COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. We far exceeded the additional $5,000 goal from last week’s email request and raised over $14,000 in the last 10 days, for a grand total of over $36,000! We have already spent $15,000 in food between the first big distribution and a smaller distribution taking place over the next several days.  We will be using another $10,000 next week on grocery store gift cards for 150 families and are still planning on when to use the remaining funds depending on how long the quarantine lasts. 

Of course, this week is Holy Week, Semana Santa, traditionally an untouchable, sacred, and hugely celebrated week in Honduras. Normally, it is the heaviest week of travel, internal tourism, beach and water park attendance, and recreation of any kind during the whole year. What a strange, unheard-of occurrence that this week the entire country, and practically the whole world, is closed, shut-in, anxious, and nervous about what the future holds. However, we praise the Lord that the remembrance and celebration of His life, death, and resurrection is not confined to a week of the year, nor restricted to something we may only do in a church building!

Our students continue to do the school work sent home each week, with the exception of this week, as Holy Week is always our national holiday week. We have also worked hard to emphasize that students spend quality family time together and do daily devotions. We have created a number of interactive family devotions for kids and parents to do together. We are so thankful to see so many families praying, singing, reading scripture, and writing in journals together!

Together with teachers and staff, we are doing everything we can to maintain Whatsapp conversations (Hondurans’ main form of texting, calling, and sharing images/videos) and other digital communications with students and their families. At this point, as far as we know, no one in La Era or family members among the Jubilee community have COVID-19. Currently, the greatest hardship for our families and the greater Honduran society is the loss of employment and sudden decrease in income. Seventy percent of Hondurans work in the informal sector, and even many of those who work in the formal sector have already had their salaries cut. As we mentioned before, in Honduras, there are no unemployment benefits, food pantries, free school lunches, or federal checks. Of course, this is why Jubilee’s food distribution is such a necessary and critical support for our community at this time.

In Honduras this is our fourth full week on lock-down. The country currently has 382 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 23 deaths. Due to the absolute quarantine, it is illegal to be on the streets, and the lockdown is enforced by military stops, blockades, and random police drive-thru surveillance. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations have now opened for limited hours, several days a week. Every Honduran adult is allowed to go to the grocery store one day a week depending on his/her national ID number. If you are found on the roads any other day, you can be arrested and/or your vehicle confiscated. 

Exacerbating the problem, we are in the peak of our hottest and driest season of the year which means water shortages everywhere, forest fires, and smoke and haze covering the views of the panoramic mountains. In many parts of La Era, including at the school and hundreds of homes nearby, families have not received water for over 3 weeks. Supposedly, it will come again for a short time on Sunday.  Sometimes, when the privately-run weather trucks drive near their homes, families are able to buy water by the barrel and fill their storage containers.
We continue to covet your prayers at this time!