As we’re all impacted by this lethal pandemic its good to share what businesses are doing to survive and cope.  I thought I’d do a bit of a shout out for the small charity sector as so many companies play such an important role in their future.

Just a Drop focuses on safe water, sanitation and hygiene education, we’ve been in the handwashing business for over 20 years- so we’re experts at something that’s badly needed right now. We work across 3 continents in 6 destinations, but surviving in order to help our communities across the world continues to be a challenge.

As soon as the scale of the pandemic was acknowledged our team went into swift action liaising with our local partners to identify urgent needs to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect the vulnerable communities we work with.

I was only just back from Uganda at the end of February and know how vulnerable health care systems are – we have spent the last 3 years providing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education including soap making into 4 health centres, as well as many schools and local communities. We’ve transformed the health centres but I also visited others in desperate need and I promise, whilst we worry about the NHS and developed countries’ care systems coping, in comparison we are blessed. Which is a frightening prospect.

That’s why many developing countries are doing their utmost to prevent the spread. With lockdowns comes increased levels of poverty. For people who’ve lost their incomes and have no money, it’s difficult to buy soap and if they spend all day fetching water, they need it for drinking and cooking, and won’t have enough for handwashing.

My quick acting team put together an emergency response programme across all 6 destinations impacting nearly 367,000 people at a cost of less than £1/$1/1 per person. We are ready and able to deliver- NOW. Not next week, not next month but TODAY. And we all know what preventing the transmission of coronavirus across that number of people exponentially means.

So how did last week shape up?

Monday A very sad start, one of our Founding Fathers Just a Drop’s very first Project Engineer and Officer Captain Jim Masters MBE, sapper to our President Colonel John Blashford-Snell, died of Covid-19 in a care home. I’m utterly heartbroken because a finer man would be hard to meet. He helped save 1000s of lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1960’s during the first Ebola crisis and Just a Drop was in his heart and soul. We miss him but his inspiring leadership stays with us and we will make a fitting tribute to him and honour his name with a dedicated project when all this is over.

Tuesday Zoom team meetings as we focus on how to get our programmes funded. Some emergency funds have been established both in USA and UK but one of the challenges for small charities is these funders tend to simply support “The Big Boys Club” as my team put it. It’s why businesses and their employees have been so important to a charity like Just a Drop because we’ve also made it more personal and engaging. But companies and their staff are suffering too, so we’re seeking support from these institutional funders, trusts and foundations.

Wednesday My husband has an idea that everyone in lock down will need a haircut and that the money saved doing a “Home Cut” could help save lives supporting Just a Drop. So with help from one of our Trustees, the team developed the #JustaHaircut Challenge in breakneck speed. Information is prepared for the website, JustGiving page set up and we get ready to launch it for the weekend. 

If you’d like to take part as it looks like home haircuts will be needed for quite some time then click here: Don’t forget to share the results with us!

Thursday Some good news one of our funders in Hong Kong has agreed to support 50% of our Zambia programme. It’s such a welcome boost after all the team’s efforts. Our in-country team are over the moon and I’m delighted to say drilling is starting this week. I did say we’re ready to start immediately and we’re good to our word.

Friday A trustees meeting concludes that with a lot of regret we have to furlough two of the team and reduce others to a 4 day week from May 1. The reason, it’s not that we don’t have plenty to do, we do- it’s just we need to plan for the future and make sure we can sustain the impact of this hideous disease. Be around to keep up the fight as Captain Jim Masters would expect us to do.

One of the things we’ve been doing as a team is sharing poetry. This piece came from Benedict Male our team leader in Uganda. I think it helps sum up why we and many other small charities keep up the fight to do what we do and so value the support we get from people who resonate with our various causes. We never take it for granted.

"I soo worried."

I been worried before time but not like this.

Will this end, how will it end, when will it end.

Why did this happen to mankind?

I worry about my children, my parents, my friends and all my loved ones.

Since everyone is under quarantine, do they have what to eat, clean water, electricity and all the necessities. Am worried.

I worry about the poor village people, the vulnerables and most still the pregnant mothers who will give birth in this time when health workers fear to go to health centres because of the epidemic COVID, and worse still have to walk long journeys to hospitals.

Am worried

Am sooo worried and sometimes think that it's the end of the world Oh, God, if we wronged U, we are sorry, forgive us But am worried.

Have a good week everyone.

Keep Smiling, Keep Safe and Keep Handwashing

Founder and Chairman

Just a Drop