The Impacts of Covid-19 on the work of Fundasaun Alola in 2021

A message from Macu Guterres, CEO Fundasaun Alola 

Good day to the friends and supporters of Fundasaun Alola

The Council of Minister passed a resolution on 8 March regarding imposition of a mandatory lockdown for the municipality of Dili, taking effect from 8 March through to 15 March. During the lockdown all public transport ceased and all activities with the exception of those deemed to be essential banned. In response to this, the CEO of Fundasaun Alola issued those staff engaged in provision of essential services with a letter of authorization to continue to work in the office, with staff rotated between morning and afternoon shifts. This system was implemented to ensure the continuation of necessary work whilst at the same time ensuring physical distancing is maintained. Mask use in the office is obligatory and any staff presenting with symptoms of illness are required to remain at home and work from home.

During the initial lockdown period, case numbers continued to increase, leading to the government’s decision to extend the lockdown until 2 April. In addition to Dili, the municipalities of Baucau and Viqueque also entered into lockdown due to the emergence of new cases in these two localities. 

Whilst it is extremely positive that to date Timor-Leste has recorded no deaths nor severe cases of Covid requiring the use of ventilators, the concerning flipside of this situation is that a growing number of Timorese are suspicious that the government and health authorities are exaggerating the dangers of the virus and using the state of emergency to their political advantage. Regardless, the medical authorities continue to conduct testing on a large scale and to urge the population of the country to follow the protocols for limiting the spread of the virus. 

Fundasaun Alola continues to be in regular contact with partners and donors to make the necessary adjustments to project plans and timelines based on the current restrictions and has also continued to provide guidance to staff in the field to ensure that those working in areas unaffected by Covid are able to continue to conduct their activities. Unfortunately the work of the Maternal and Child Health team in promoting exclusive breastfeeding and skin to skin contact for new mothers and their babies has had to cease temporarily as a number of positive cases of Covid-19 were detected in staff of the Dili National Hospital. 

The present lockdown has required that Alola fully implement the commitment articulated in its current strategic plan to make maximum use of technology in pursuing our mission and goals. Regular meetings with donors and staff are taking place using platforms such as ZOOM, Webex, Facebook and WhatsApp. Like women around the world, the staff of Fundasaun Alola are experiencing the challenge of juggling working from home with supporting children with their home-schooling. 

You can learn more about Fundasaun Alola’s ongoing response to COVID-19 here.