Clover always has believed in communication, trust, and community. We recognize that we can only fulfil our mission by listening to the community we serve and trusting Clover’s Ugandan leaders. And now these values have well-prepared Clover to deal with an unprecedented crisis like COVID-19. We were able to rapidly develop a response strategy with five main factors in mind:
Communications: Our boards have always worked closely together to further Clover’s mission. Now U.S.. Board member Hannah Polakoff is in daily communication with our School Director, Esther Makumbi. Through significant time spent in Uganda and at Clover, Hannah has deep personal familiarity with conditions there and in other parts of East Africa. In February she began discussing the implications of the pandemic with our team in Uganda.
Expertise: In this crisis, Hannah turned to US Board member Evelyn Abayaah, a healthcare professional at Massachusetts General Hospital, to develop a COVID-19 mitigation plan. Evelyn’s experience in Africa is both personal and professional, and her intimate knowledge of the conditions in Africa’s areas of extreme poverty helped create a simple and highly effective plan.
Comprehensive Approach: Clover has long taken a comprehensive approach with our children, recognizing that their home life can have a huge impact on their education. As we developed Clover’s mitigation plan we knew it also would need to be comprehensive. We based it on three factors:
• Education about safe health practices
• Provision of effective safety supplies such as soap and hand sanitizer
• Addressing indirect health factors, such as additional meals
Grass Roots Implementation: No plan can succeed without effective implementation, and our team in Uganda, led by Esther Makumbi, has unparalleled abilities to get things done. Once the plan was in place, she sprang into action.
Esther tasked our teachers with setting up a phone network to make sure they could communicate with every family; even those that don’t have phones would be reached through neighbors. Esther also set up community public health broadcasts to spread information about safe health practices. And within a week after schools closed, parents received the first packages of food and other sanitation supplies.
Continuous Improvement: No matter how well designed, no plan is perfect. Hannah and Esther are in ongoing contact with our team in Uganda to make sure that the plan evolves to meet the changing needs of the community.
This comprehensive and effective plan is possible only because of the strong relationship built over the last 8 years by Clover’s boards in the U.S.. and Uganda. Though we could never have predicted this pandemic, we are grateful that our emphasis on communication, trust, and community has left us with a strong foundation from which to build our crisis response.
You can help Clover’s students and families by making a gift to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. Your generosity can be a lifeline for our families, making sure they have the supplies and food they need to cope in this very difficult time. Please be as generous as you can so that we can keep our Clover students and their families safe.