Jennifer Allen works with our Mexican partner, AMEXTRA, and sent me this update on conditions in her adopted country:
First and foremost, we would like to express our gratitude for the concerns, prayers and support of so many people who have shown solidarity with Mexico right now. We are indeed in the middle of a difficult situation due to the swine flu. As of noon on Monday, April 27th, 2000 cases had been confirmed and 150 associated deaths. Although deaths have only been reported in Mexico, the virus is being reported in the USA and is suspected in other parts of the world.
The Mexican government is taking the following measures: cancellation of public events, closing of all schools in the country until May 6th, mass communications of the symptoms and preventative measures (constantly wash hands, do not greet others with a hand shake or kiss on the cheek, disinfect food, dishes and doorknobs), distribution of face masks, quick diagnosis and medical attention for suspected cases and isolation of the sick. Society in general is voluntarily choosing to go outside as little as possible to avoid being infected which most commonly occurs through coughs and sneezes.
In Amextra we have taken the following preventative measures: Reduce schedules to include only indispensable meetings in order to reduce exposure to contagions for program participants and staff. Work to promote preventative measures in the communities where we work. Pray for the situation.
We are already hearing reports of the illness in our communities, although details are yet to be confirmed. The distribution of face masks on behalf of the authorities is not sufficient and does not reach the communities where Amextra works. The marginalized families who we work with have low incomes which affect their diet. They need need vitamin supplements to strengthen their immune systems, as well as hygienic materials (soap and bleach) which for the same economic limitations they cannot purchase.
As a preventative response in our communities which are at high risk, Amextra is beginning initial efforts to distribute face masks which we hope to combine with packages of Vitamin C, soap, and bleach in order to support the recommended hygiene standards for families.
Our goal for this first support phase is to provide 3,000 people with personal sets of: 2 face masks, 1 bar of soap, 1 bottle of bleach and 1 box of vitamin C, each package will cost only $5 USD.
AMEXTRA is an association that works in urban and rural areas to transform life for the poorest of the poor. ELCA World Hunger supports this ministry with an annual grant of $60,000. You can find information about giving to ELCA World Hunger Appeal at http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/ELCA-World-Hunger/Give-Now.aspx