Infinite Chance, like many other nonprofits, was forced into immediate action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team has been working feverishly at offering protection to our students and all of Hogar Miguel Magone from a distance, and creating action plans in case an outbreak was to occur. While we are still very much in the midst of the crisis, we want to update our supporters on the current situation in Guatemala, our responses to date, and our future plans.
CURRENT SITUATION IN GUATEMALA
Guatemala confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 13th, roughly 2 months after the virus first arrived in the United States. By March 21st, the president had established a global travel ban and a nationwide curfew. To date there are 289 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guatemala*. All public and private schools are currently closed, along with many non-essential businesses. The curfew remains in place and citizens are not allowed to travel between departments (“states”) within the country. It is also currently illegal to be outside of your home without a mask.
* Information is constantly changing. Please refer to www.CDC.gov for the most up to date information.
OUR RESPONSE TO DATE
Our main focus and priority during this pandemic is the safety of all children residing at Hogar Miguel Magone. By March 9th, even before the first confirmed case in Guatemala, our Board of Directors had activated emergency funding for the pandemic. These funds were activated for preventative measures and treatment if necessary.
So far, Infinite Chance has:
Provided masks for all children, staff, and essential visitors to Hogar Miguel Magone
Provided several gallons of hand sanitizer and disinfectant in order to maintain the highest level of hygiene and cleanliness possible
Suspended computer and English classes in line with regulations set in place by the Guatemalan government for public and private schools.
Increased internet capabilities (speed and amount) at Hogar Miguel Magone, which our trade school students are using for online classes via Zoom.
Provided funding to offset any decreases in food donations to Hogar Miguel Magone, to ensure the children are maintaining a nutritional diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.
Maintained constant communication with our team members on the ground in Guatemala
Worked with Hogar Miguel Magone leaders on “worst case” action plans, should a child test positive for the virus.
Indefinitely postponed our Glimpse of Guate March 2020 trip
Hogar Miguel Magone has also worked extensively in setting the following guidelines in place:
Only essential volunteers and staff are granted entry. Volunteers are given very limited access to the home.
ANYONE entering the campus wears a mask and follows rigorous sanitation guidelines.
An established schedule/routine has been maintained for the children, which includes academic and physical activities, along with PLENTY of outdoor playtime.
Thankfully, Hogar Miguel Magone has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
With schools closed, maintaining a routine for the children has been of upmost importance. A communal “classroom” has been set up in the cafeteria, where the majority of the students are receiving virtual classes via television from 9 AM to 12 PM most weekdays. The older children have been spending time fixing broken bicycles that have been donated to the home over the years, along with skates and scooters… which are all being used daily. Keeping 85 children entertained while quarantined is proving to be challenging, but Hogar Miguel Magone has always been up for a challenge.
OUR FUTURE PLANS
When a pandemic hits, priorities immediately change; be it in a household, a company, or a nonprofit. Being an organization who has always been dedicated to education, we were suddenly forced to put educational initiatives temporarily to the side in order to focus on the health of our students. Along with the obvious urgency of preventing an outbreak within the home, it has been proven that children who are anxious, scared, or simply struggling with a new “normal”, cannot physically learn new information as they usually would. The same applies for children who are ill or hungry. So naturally, Infinite Chance had to focus on basic needs NOW, and come back stronger than ever with our educational programs in the FUTURE. We are currently focused on making the children feel safe (along with making sure they actually ARE safe), making sure they are well fed with a diet rich in nutrients, making a routine easier to maintain, etc.
We have also discussed worst case scenarios in regards to an outbreak within the home. One building has been assigned for isolation if need be. We are working very closely with Hogar Miguel Magone staff, in order to be as prepared as possible. Hopefully these plans will not come in to play.
I wish I could tell you all when life will go back to normal for our students. As we all know, this is an ever-evolving situation. Information changes daily, and decisions are made accordingly. Unfortunately, Guatemala is still at the very beginning of this outbreak, while many of us elsewhere are beginning to visualize the finish line.
What I can tell you with complete certainty is that Infinite Chance will continue to work tirelessly to keep our students safe, happy, and healthy throughout this entire global emergency.
President & Founder