ZAMBIA – June 24 2020 COVID-19: Parenting and responding in Zambia With the COVID-19 pandemic evolving every day, our programs and staff at SOS Zambia are constantly adapting and working to protect some of our most vulnerable members of society. SOS mothers in particular are a vital part of maintaining the wellbeing and development of vulnerable children. They are providing important psychological and educational support to children during this challenging and uncertain time. Their continuous work is keeping children safe and maintaining a sense of calm and routine in our SOS villages. SOS mother Phoebe from SOS Children’s Villages Zambia tells us: I have been an SOS mother for 20 years and I have not seen times like this. These days I do not worry that my children will get into a fight at school, or get into bad company; these are important but seem trivial now in the wake of this virus… the coronavirus. I have 12 children, four boys and eight girls, age six to 14 years. When I first told my children about the danger of touching one another, my youngest child was very concerned that he could no longer touch his friends. "But that is how we live mum, touching and hugging," my son reminded me. This lesson cannot be normal, I thought. But then again, we are not living in normal times. Each child in the SOS village now owns a mask. They wear it when going outside to play with other children within the compound. The masks are beautiful. They come in many different colors and patterns and the children love them. They are made of cloth and are washable. I remember the giggles and laughter the first week when we started wearing them; the children thought we all looked so funny. I keep looking outside the window to see where the children are and if they are wearing their masks properly. I think the coronavirus has made motherhood more complicated. SOS Children’s Villages’ COVID-19 Response in Zambia At SOS Children’s Villages Zambia, a steering committee on COVID-19 monitors the situation and helps to implement mitigating measures, and other responses, as the situation unfolds. The following are some of the activities undertaken by SOS programs and facilities in Zambia: Placement of hand washing facilities at the entrance and other locations around SOS villages. Access to alcohol-based sanitizers, disinfectants and soaps is also provided to SOS programs and offices in Zambia. Awareness raising sessions organized for all employees, children and youth. Hand washing and related informative posters have been disseminated in the villages and the national office. Dissemination of Ministry of Health materials to SOS staff, mothers, security personnel and school authorities. All SOS schools, vocational training centers and kindergartens have been closed per the government direction. Restricted movements for mothers and children and external visitors. Purchase and stocking of critical food items at all locations is planned. To ensure social distancing in SOS Zambia offices, a rotating work schedule has been implemented and will be updated to follow any SOS or government guidelines. Family strengthening program meetings will only be held if deemed essential and with clearance from the Ministry of Health.