Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us – if not physically, then mentally. The fear of infection and the need to keep away from friends and loved ones combine to form a toxic brew of stress and anxiety that can overwhelm the spirit.
While none of us are immune, these anxieties often strike hardest at society’s most vulnerable. The widows and fatherless children of Egypt already struggle with the loss of the primary breadwinner in their household; the virus has only added to a lengthy list of worries.
By God’s grace, and with your generous support, Coptic Orphans has long taken the initiative in caring for the mental health of the families we serve.
For years, our field staff has worked hand-in-hand with mental health professionals to design training sessions for our specially trained, Church-based Reps to pass on to the families during their home visits.
This kind of long-term preparation for hard times is one of the reasons Coptic Orphans is a disaster resilience organization, as distinct from a disaster relief organization that unloads supplies and leaves.
Coptic Orphans is now hard at work crafting new training sessions based around three core principles that need to be addressed during the pandemic. These principles are:
1. Building Psychological Resilience. To assist adult mothers and Reps, who are often psychologically taxed by the responsibility of caring for others during the pandemic, we are building up their psychological resilience to enable them to develop protective coping mechanisms. This training will also help them maintain balance in their lives during other difficult and stressful periods. In addition, it can protect them from developing certain mental health issues, such as depression.
2. Collective Consciousness. This refers to shared moral beliefs and attitudes that work as a force of solidarity within the community. By building and adopting positive ethical standards towards themselves and others during the COVID crisis, each person can play an important role in creating a collective consciousness. These collectives can then positively affect the rest of society. For example, one mother has already convinced the other mothers in her building to form a team that works together to clean and disinfect their apartment building.
3. Psychological First Aid. This principle underlies a training to provide the children with appropriate psychological support during the COVID crisis. The training uses child-specific learning exercises to prevent children from indulging in feelings of fear, anxiety, or extreme sadness as a result of encountering infection or death. The training also teaches children how to tell truth from rumors, and how to avoid panicking over widespread and inaccurate information surrounding the virus.
Each lesson will be delivered in a single installment – three in all – and specially tailored for mothers and children. Since home visits have been severely restricted, these lessons are designed for Reps to deliver over the phone.
We need your help to expand this work to more children. Please make a gift to Coptic Orphans today. You’ll be making a difference by meeting the needs of Egypt’s most vulnerable children in this unprecedented crisis. Thank you, and please continue to pray for the children’s health and happiness.