Railway Children’s teams in East Africa are preparing for the impact of coronavirus. 

The situation in Tanzania is particularly challenging and changing daily. While the country is not at the same critical stage many are in the outbreak, with numbers of cases in hundreds rather than thousands and fatalities still less than 20, our dedicated and hardworking teams are doing whatever they can to keep supporting children there.

Schools have also closed, meaning many children are no longer getting the one meal a day they could rely on, and our teams have already seen an increase in numbers of children on the streets where they have little or no access to hand washing and cleanliness facilities.

We have identified the greatest needs for vulnerable children and families as being for food and medical support, emergency shelter and basic necessities like mattresses and sanitiser, but we are also looking at ways to communicate important health and safety advice such as through radio campaigns.

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Our network of community champions is proving crucial in helping with this. Often familiar to the children already, they are distributing hygiene materials and advising children on the best ways to stay safe as well as setting up washing stations where children can get clean.

We have also been approached by Unicef who have asked for our support in expanding the foster family scheme that we have been operating to find children from the streets somewhere safe to stay. Our teams are doing what they can to help as we know the benefits this has for vulnerable children.

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Throughout this crisis our outreach work has continued and we’re still visiting families that need our support. Our Youth Associations are still operating, and some drop in centres are offering services with social distancing and cleaning guidelines in place. We are delivering extra awareness sessions with children and young people on the hygiene and prevention surrounding coronavirus.

We continue to reach children we find alone and at risk, reuniting them with families wherever possible and making sure they are safe from harm.