SOLWODI had to adapt to the coronavirus. Many appointments and events had to be canceled or postponed. We have limited our work or reorganized it into telecommuting. But, we remain reachable for women in distress. In these difficult times, this is more important than ever. In the previous weeks, we have received more appeal calls from women victims of violence in their homes.
In Germany, despite the closing of brothels on March 16, prostitution continues and affected women are asking us for help, because their situation has worsened. The Covid-19 has made it clear that a long-term political solution must be found and that it is absolutely necessary to introduce a ban on the purchase of sex acts at European level. In this regard, we have addressed an open letter to Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.
For Africa and for SOLWODI Kenya, the coronavirus poses particular challenges.
In Kenya the monthly income averages only 114 euros. This makes buying basic food a big problem for many people, as the price for a kilo of rice is 1.29 euros.
Often, the women SOLWODI supports in Kenya do not have a guaranteed income. They do low-paid odd jobs or work for small businesses. In recent months, the coronavirus crisis and continued rains have made the situation even worse.
The state has declared lockdown for the population, closed businesses and demolished kiosks of women receiving SOLWODI aid. These women no longer had the right to work in their fields.
Kenya’s Solwodi social workers, who work in the slums, say: 90% of the women we help are affected. They are often single women caring for children and people with physical limitations. No longer able to work, they ended up homeless or lived in very poor shacks which were sources of additional contamination. In areas with a high population density, the number of cases of infection continues to increase because there are no protective masks.
After informing our supporters about the implications of the coronavirus crisis in Kenya, a spontaneous campaign was organized. Thanks to this support, our social workers were able to distribute food, soap and protective masks to women and children living in the slums. I am in admiration of the spontaneous and generous disposition of our supporters and I thank each and everyone with all my heart.
Sr Lea Ackermann, MSOLA (Germany)