Press release, 16 april 2020

Corona pandemic: HEKS/EPER scales up its support programmes

Under its emergency aid programme for people confronting hardship as a result of the corona pandemic and therefore in need of support, HEKS/EPER is constantly expanding its offer of services in Switzerland and in project countries around the world.

A telephone helpline was launched by the HEKS/EPER Regional Office for Zurich/Schaffhausen in early April, and a similar project recently began operating in North-western Switzerland. Experienced lawyers from the HEKS/EPER Aargau/Solothurn Regional Office can be reached from Tuesdays to Fridays between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. by calling 062 824 6024. They will offer advice free of cost by phone, on topics relating to housing and work, and will support people in their search for concrete solutions. A HEKS/EPER multilingual telephone helpline will also become available shortly throughout Switzerland. This scheme is meant for persons who do not speak or understand any of the four national languages and are in urgent need of intercultural translation.

Lastly, similar to one already in place in Eastern Switzerland, HEKS/EPER with the collaboration of volunteers is also running a scheme in the Berne region, which provides help with learning and assistance free of cost by video chat – targeting first and foremost children of kindergarten and primary school age from socially disadvantaged families, and then lower and upper secondary as well as vocational students.

Corona-Soforthilfe: Produktion von Schutzmasken in Haiti

10,000 masks to protect against coronavirus

In Haiti, HEKS/EPER has commissioned three sewing workshops in the Grand’Anse region initially to produce 10,000 protective masks. The first 500 masks and 500 pairs of hygienic gloves have already been distributed at the Saint-Antoine Hospital, the local medical centre. This work provides the women and men sewing the masks with a welcome supplement to their income.

In addition, 100 people have been designated as contact persons for the local population. Their task is to check whether preventive measures against the virus are being taken, whether drinking water and soap are available and to monitor the food security situation. Besides, posters have been printed setting out the rules of behaviour and put up throughout the municipalities. Radio programmes reminding people of the most important hygiene measures are being broadcast by local radio stations across the region.

Disinfectant instead of spirits

In the Cerrado, Brazil's savanna region, HEKS/EPER has now been working for many years with a group of manufacturers of cachaça (a spirit distilled from sugarcane juice). These producers have decided to halt production of spirits temporarily and instead produce disinfectant from the alcohol (70 vol%). HEKS/EPER is assisting peasant families in the marketing and distribution of the disinfectant. Small quantities have already been sold. Current demand for disinfectant is enormous and the project is being scaled up accordingly.

Dieter Wüthrich
Head of Media and Information Department
Dieter Wüthrich

Phone: +41 44 360 88 66
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70

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