Six of the seven continents on Earth have been impacted by the coronavirus and COVID-19. Hosting programs were not able to be conducted for Summer 2020 due to travel restrictions and there are many factors that Project 143 continues to monitor as we look forward to the winter host programs.
The logistics of a host program under the best of circumstances is a long, choreographed dance. It involves visits with children to identify candidates for the programs, advocating for the children to find host families, working with host families as they select children to host in their homes, following up on the host family paperwork, managing in-country permissions and documentation for the children to travel. Of course, then there are the actual logistics of air travel and in-country travel to get to the airports for their international flights. It is part of my role at P143 that I love the most - getting to see all of these pieces come together and the long-awaited meetings happening for kids and families!
As summer comes to an end and countries around the world start back into a new normal of schooling and looking forward to fall and winter, it leaves us working to find new normals for our hosting programs as well.
We have special prayer requests for clarity and clear direction in each of these areas to allow us to continue our plans for a winter hosting program.
Health & Safety
The health and safety of the children, chaperones, and our host families remain our priority in all we do. We continue to monitor the health situation in the United States as well as in Colombia, Latvia, and Ukraine.
Travel Availability and Logistics
All three countries are slowly opening travel between the United States and their borders. At this time, there are still many restrictions, required quarantines, and COVID testing requirements. As these requirements evolve over the coming weeks, we will be working with our travel agents to determine viable flight options for the groups.
All children and chaperones need medical insurance during their stay in the United States. The travel insurance plans that we use to cover our visitors have a clause excluding payment for illness of a known pandemic at the time of travel. Coronavirus was declared a pandemic many months ago, so this clause would mean that if a child or one of our adult chaperones were to need treatment for COVID-19 related illness, the insurance would not pay for the medical care. We continue to work on insurance for the groups through options in-country as well as plans that can be procured in the home countries and be accepted for care in the United States.
Visas in two of our programs are printed in-person at the United States embassies. At this time, the embassies are not conducting routine visa appointments due to COVID concerns. There have been some special appointments granted, so we are hopeful that this will continue trending in a direction toward more typical operations. We are in contact with the consular sections within the embassies and will monitor their changes in policy over the coming weeks as well.
Quarantine requirements for both entering the United States and for returning to their home countries will be a consideration that we will have to assess as we near our proposed travel dates. Colombian children already attend a camp for two weeks ahead of hosting and would be able to be quarantined in that environment. Latvian and Ukrainian children meet at the airport from different regions and do not have the opportunity to be in a quarantine environment either before or after the hosting time in the USA. We are watching and assessing each country’s requirements for travel each day and making assessments for our opportunities to comply with each set of rules put forth.
The prayers of our host families, prayer partners, supporters, and friends are cherished during this time as we continue with our heart and mission to serve the vulnerable older orphans.