Even as schools were shut down due to the virus, Rehoboth staff began working even harder to feed students and their families. Many qualify for a free school lunch program, which the school is working to continue offering outside of the school walls. And since the beginning of the outbreak, needs have continued to grow.
Gallup, the nearest town with affordable supplies, was recently shut down. As a result, many people who normally travel to the town for groceries now rely on the food and water distribution offered by Rehoboth. With the help of our donors, they’ve recently doubled the number of families served, from 50 to 100.
World Renew values partnerships with local organizations like Rehoboth, because they are the most in touch with the community’s needs.
“They know the area, they know the issues better than we do,” says Bob Laarman, Director of World Renew Disaster Response Services. This approach is especially useful with the COVID-19 crisis, as volunteers are no longer being sent to affected areas. Instead, the work happens directly through people in the community. For example, when it comes to helping the most remote families, Rehoboth has hired members of the Navajo Nation to drive supplies out to those in need.
One of the other partners who’s made this work possible is RCA Global Mission. Scott Engelsman, Supervisor of Marketing, Disaster Response, and RCA Mission in Europe and the Middle East, speaks to their collaboration:
“Through the generosity of donors, we have been able to provide funding to partners around the world to help feed those on the margins who are even more impacted by economic shutdowns. The partnership with World Renew has allowed us to do that for the Navajo as well.”
This crisis is different from any other disaster that World Renew has responded to in the past. Comparing the COVID-19 response to other DRS work, Bob Laarman quoted a phrase commonly used in the field:
“The one thing all disasters have in common is that they’re all different.”
Going in with that mindset has been helpful, he says. The pandemic may have changed some of the typical response methods, but by working through local people and organizations, World Renew remains committed to serving the most vulnerable people during this crisis.