As a global health expert and clinician, I’ve long been on the front lines when it comes to keeping children healthy and supporting families who may be struggling. But since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in mid-March 2020, the challenges facing my community in Ghana, and indeed the global community, have continued to mount.
United Ways around the world are stepping up to meet these challenges. We’ve raised $1 billion to help the 1,200 communities we serve across 40 countries respond and recover from the coronavirus. This includes vulnerable populations – those of color, the aged or those just scraping by with limited means – whose struggles with the pandemic and its aftermath have been exacerbated.
This generosity – from individuals, corporations and governments – has been heartening. United Way Worldwide has captured some of these inspiring stories of hope and people helping one another in a new digital report, Respond, Recover, Reimagine, Rebuild: United Way's COVID-19 Fight.
I encourage you to read through and see how United Way and our donors, volunteers and advocates are coming up with innovative solutions to meet communities’ needs, while working to reimagine and rebuild healthy, equitable communities.
Here are just a few examples from Respond, Recover, Reimagine, Rebuild: United Way's COVID-19 Fight:
- Easing the hardship for frontline health workers and the economically vulnerable India: United Way Mumbai provided healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, sanitizing stations, testing kits and other items to address shortages in these critical items.
- Innovating in rural area to get food to people: Many rural areas, like Virginia’s Eastern Shore, lack the digital infrastructure for online grocery services. Shore Delivery Corps, partially funded by United Way of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, mobilizes volunteers to provide free grocery delivery services to older adults and individuals with existing health issues.
- Narrowing the Digital Divide for Youth: UNICEF says two-thirds of school-aged students across the world lack internet access at home. Across the globe, local United Ways are working to enhance digital inclusivity by focusing on access to technology, access to broadband service, and enhanced technological literacy. In Jackson, Mississippi, United Way of the Capital Area directed COVID funds to underwrite internet service for low-wage families. United Way of Metro Chicago joined forces with Chicago Public Schools, the city, and others to raise $47 million for high-speed internet for 100,000 families with children.
The United Way Worldwide network is committed to doing this important work through the lens of equity. And that commitment is of deep importance – in every country and in every community.
If you've helped your neighbors cope with the COVID challenge–whether through charitable donations, volunteering or advocacy–United Way thanks you. But its devastating impact on lives and livelihoods continues. That means that United Way's fight for a stronger, better future for all continues, too. And we’ll continue to need your help, because United we fight, United we win.