We’ve now just come to the end of our second national lockdown of 2020 due to the increase in cases of COVID-19. We are still doing all we can to keep working and we continue to remain operational while fully complying with the government guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. This means our office is COVID-19 secure and we remain compliant in all the steps we have taken.

These are unprecedented times, and we are working hard to ensure that our teams and beneficiaries overseas are supported as much as possible. We are in regular contact with our teams overseas, continuing to work remotely with them and providing support as they follow their own country’s guidance at this time. Some are still in a lockdown and some have curfews placed upon them to try and bring the numbers down.

All our teams overseas have been provided with extra training on COVID-19, as outlined by their respective government authorities, as well as training on what to do with a suspected case of COVID-19. 

I am pleased to report that our Face Mask project has been invaluable during this time and our tailors, who have been through our Empowering programme, have enjoyed making something so important. They have made over 2,000 masks and this is such a provision for so many of our beneficiaries who have no means to be able to buy one. Giving people a free, reusable face mask to help protect against COVID-19 is vital and we do ask you to support this project, as there are still many more people that desperately need one to be made for them. Anything that you can contribute towards the ongoing demand would be greatly appreciated.

We have been continuing with regular food support in India and Zimbabwe during these times and helping people to receive much-needed food through our Feeding programmes. Our teams in India have said how much of a lifeline these food supplies are, as many have really struggled to eat due to the added challenges that COVID-19 has caused. Over the last 6 months our teams have continued to distribute meals for people who have had very little to survive on and it has made a world of difference. Thank you for your support in making this happen.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, which has led to reduced resources and loss of income, we have seen a huge increase in the need for food supplies among our beneficiaries and people coming to us for help. We really need your support for our Feeding programmes, so that we can continue to provide food and meals for those who otherwise are left to go hungry. We have still managed to support our widows and beneficiaries with food and resources throughout the ongoing pandemic, as for many this is all they receive, and they have no other way of obtaining any help.

I am delighted to share with you about a new radio project that we have been able to set up in Uganda. Due to the pandemic, children have not been going to school and have been missing out on their educational development. They have been unable to go online because they do not have laptops, computers, or access to the internet. We have been working with one of the schools that we support in Uganda to overcome this. The schools’ teachers broadcast a variety of lessons over a tannoy system. This has not only benefited the children themselves, but also many of their parents, who have been keen to improve their education.

Our palliative care patients are depending on our team like never before as they are extremely concerned of contracting COVID-19 due to their underlying health conditions. Our team is kept very busy and requests for help are increasing daily and are up nearly 20% compared to only a few months ago. Like many countries, Kosovo does not have the NHS and healthcare is very basic and costly, so our team is in high demand.

It has been an incredibly tough year for everyone as we have had to come to terms with and manage the effects that this pandemic has had on us all. In these unprecedented times there has been a lot of uncertainty over many aspects of all our lives. Whilst we cannot equate entirely with what our beneficiaries overseas go through on a daily basis, we have been through difficult times here in the UK, with limited access to food, limited travelling, struggles with finances and concerns for our health now and in the future. It serves as a strong reminder of what the people we support face, on a daily basis, with significantly less resources and very limited help.

It reminds us of why we do what we do, why we feel so passionately about turning tears into smiles and why, now more than ever, we need you. We need you to draw alongside widows in their loneliness; we need you to sponsor a child so they can get an education; we need you to help build a business of a struggling father trying to provide for his family and we need you to help support those in end of life care needing pain relief.

Thank you for your prayers for all our teams and beneficiaries overseas during this global pandemic and please continue to pray for all those working hard to help the vulnerable and needy. Although we are experiencing challenging times as a charity, we know the Lord is with us and we continue to trust Him in all things.

If you would like to donate online to help with this ongoing situation, please visit https://www.smileinternational.org/donate or if you would like to donate through the post, then continue to use our postal address PO Box 1414, Peterborough, PE1 9WG.

Thank you to those of you who are already giving through sponsorship, regular giving, or one-off gifts.  We really value and appreciate every donation.

Thank you again for your support and we pray you and your families stay safe.

Tim Doubleday