COVID-19 presents myriad challenges for the partners of Quaker Service Australia (QSA) who have by and large managed to adapt and innovate in order to continue working safely with their communities for much of the past turbulent year. Travel and movement restrictions have posed significant challenges, including for partners in Cambodia. In that country, partners engage local youth volunteers to liaise with and assist their rural communities in participating in online workshops: for example, regarding much-needed nutritional awareness for young mothers, pregnant women, and their partners. In Uganda, QSA partners are continuing agricultural training for smallholder rural farmers through social media recordings as well as COVID-19-safe training in small outdoor groups. Farmers are learning how to run their own practical experiments with improved and climate-resilient banana and plantain varieties, reviving one of Uganda’s staple crops, whilst boosting both food and income security. QSA’s partnership arrangements are already such that the majority of decision making and direction are locally led. It is that one critical touchpoint of a face-to-face visit to partners during the year, however, that is missing. As an Australia-based NGO with no overseas offices, such visits foster and strengthen even QSA’s long-standing relationships. As with many relationships with family and friends, QSA is relying more on digital technologies to bridge this gap.
Learn more: Quaker Service Australia