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Irise / Coronavirus Response  / Bringing Back Smiles- An update from our CEO on our Coronavirus Response

Bringing Back Smiles- An update from our CEO on our Coronavirus Response

At the start of this crisis we decided that our doors would remain firmly open. We made a commitment to be there for our communities and to stand with vulnerable young people whatever lay ahead. We didn’t know how or what this would mean but we knew that this was necessary and that we were needed more than ever.

We have been overwhelmed by the response of our community. From individual supporters to international funders, your passion, insight, and commitment to the cause have lifted us up and inspired us during dark moments over the last four months.

We’re proud to announce that we are now supporting 500 child led households in Uganda with ongoing emergency supplies and support visits. We are also working with local government to safeguard children from the escalating harms they face because of coronavirus and measures taken to reduce its spread- we currently have over 300 safeguarding cases in Uganda ranging from severe hunger to sexual abuse and attempted child trafficking resulting from the crisis. I am immensely proud of our Ugandan team who, in many cases, are the only thing standing between vulnerable girls and great harm.

In the UK we are providing support to 4,500 vulnerable young women and girls who are struggling to access menstrual products, information and services. I am particularly proud of the young leaders within our community who have risen to the challenge by tirelessly speaking out for the most vulnerable and marginalised in our network. From fundraising, writing letters to MPs, to designing projects and campaigns, they have been the backbone of our response.

In both contexts, we’re continuing to amplify the voices of vulnerable young people and advocate for a gender sensitive response and recovery that doesn’t leave the most vulnerable behind. Together we have a strong voice and we are ready to build a better post-covid world.

At the start of this crisis we said that we were about Power not just Pads and I wanted to share a story from Uganda (below) that demonstrates more eloquently than I can the powerful action we have taken together. We have not just given pads or parcels- through our shared passion and commitment, we are restoring power to some of the most vulnerable young women in the world during their darkest moments.

Thank you for standing with us and changing the world,

Diana’s Story- bringing back smiles

For the first time since the crisis began we’re starting to see some smiles on the faces of the young people we support. Young women like Diana (pictured above) and her enormous, chaotic family faced terrible uncertainty when this crisis began. After the passing of Diana’s mother, brother and sister, Diana became the primary care giver for her 16 nieces and nephews, as well as her own child. Thanks to her entrepreneurial efforts and resilience life was hard but hopeful.

When the lockdown began Diana was suddenly unable to run her roadside business selling cooked chips and samosas. She faced a burden no young women should have to face alone.

“People were not buying any more, claiming not to have money during the lockdown. So, this made it so difficult to get food for the children. We only have one meal a day and that is only in the evening”

Thanks to your support, Irise was able to stand by Diana during this dark time. We provided emergency relief and ongoing support visits to help her cope with the responsibilities she shoulders.

“Irise has supported my family… they have provided us with food, rice, posho, salt, soap and pads for the girls that I take care of. They have also given us knowledge on menstruation”

We have been humbled by her bravery and indomitable spirit. Now she is smiling again and looking forward to restarting her business and continuing to pursue her ambitions for her and her family.

“I hope to have a big business of my own which will support us all… see that all children under my care complete their education with proper qualification”

Together we have been able to give young women like Diana much more than a parcel. We have been able to stand with her during her darkest moments, letting her know that she is not alone and that she has not been forgotten. It is this powerful act that has put the smiles back on her and her family’s faces and that will enable her dreams and ambitions to weather the crisis.


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