In Crisis but in Christ!!
Our last written update was on Nov. 18, 2018!! We will improve sending prompt communications. It’s to our advantage that many of you visit our ministry yearly and learn firsthand of our progress. Others initiate contact through email, and some follow Kasandra on social media. We were working on a regular update to send you but decided to postpone it until the summer. Instead, we want to give prominence to the way COVID-19 is affecting our ministry in Constanza.
As declared by the Dominican Republic President on Tuesday, March 17th, DR is following suit with many of the same practices seen around the world. The country is in lockdown, much like the rest of the world. We have an 8PM-6AM curfew, and all non-essential businesses are currently closed. Schools are also closed until April 13th, events postponed, restaurants closed, borders closed/restricted, etc. As a result, all KAI schools are closed, and our residential sites are on lockdown. We have kept busy preparing for the quarantine.
None of us have never seen a crisis like this in our lifetime, and we had to react quickly and comprehensively to such a threat.
Creating and implementing relevant protocols in a developing country wasn’t easy but was our top priority in order to care for our children and staff. Back in February we started educating everyone on the virus regarding hand washing, disinfecting and enforcing other preventive measures. One of the hardest was asking people not to kiss, hug or shake hands to greet one another. While social distancing is hard on everyone, it poses a greater challenge for Dominicans.
By mid-March, before the government had said anything yet, as they were more concerned about people turnout at elections, we started developing emergency protocols. KAI [Kids Alive International] cancelled all service teams until June. We identified and equipped an isolation room inside the ark. We purchased enough food supplies, water, and medicines to last us at least four weeks. A new schedule was developed including homeschool, chapel time, activities and recreation. This schedule includes rotations to provide days off to our caregivers. Pastoral care, counseling, medical, educational, social and psychological resources are available to them. Our entire staff was assigned responsibilities to respond to the crisis according to their positions. Our house parents, teachers, and missionaries are wholeheartedly dedicated to meet the challenges of this pandemic.
The U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic have strongly advised all American citizens to return to the United States. This in anticipation of the wide spreading of the virus, and the inadequate healthcare system on the island. Kasandra and I will stay in Constanza to care for our ministry children and adults that the Lord called us to serve. Our daughter Miranda is with us and Kasandra’s parents are here as well. Our other three children, Giovanni, Sam and Emily remained stateside.
We stay tuned to the news to be aware of what you are enduring too. We are committed to pray for your health and your needs. We ask you to please remember us in your prayers and the ministry that God has entrusted us all with. The Word of God Instructs us… “Don’t be anxious about anything but pray without ceasing and the peace of God who transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus!”
• Pray that the virus does not sweep through Constanza, or the rest of the DR. The poor medical system here would be overrun, and the results will be devastating for this country. Thank God no cases have been reported in Constanza yet, although the country has reported 392 cases so far and 10 deaths.
• Pray as we have many families at risk, without food or work, especially those that live off of what they can bring home each day, such as motorcycle taxi drivers and daily farm workers, who live in very close quarters and have an unreliable water supply.
• Pray for our school kids as we figure out how to keep them safe, connected, educated, and nourished at their homes.
• Pray for the residential children and house parents that are quarantined without assistants, at least until April 13th, the house parents having to do homeschool, meals and entertainment for 32 kids.
• Pray for that God will move hearts of donors to keep our ministry kids a priority during this time. We know the disruptions in the economy caused by the Coronavirus are enormous and leave no one untouched. We pray that God will continue providing you so we can, collectively with your continued partnership, keep serving the residential children’s homes, the school, the baseball ministry, the church and the community here. If you are in a position to help, please follow this link: www.kidsalive.org/fkobrien. We will update you once we are fully funded for 2020. You can also email us for more ways to help Constanza ministry site during this time of great need. The future, while uncertain, can be entrusted to God, and He will help us through. He tells us to not let our hearts be troubled, and to not be afraid. He will meet our needs, both in sickness, and in healing. We invite you to dwell in who He is, his love for us and his promises as in Zephaniah 3:17…
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” He is the Anchor of our Soul, our Refuge, our Provider, our Healer, our Hope, our Savior, and our Victory!!!
May God bless you and your family always!
Fred and Kasandra O ́Brien
[Visit the website Missions page for more information about the First Pres partnership with Kids Alive.]