Friends,

You have transformed lives by building and opening the Kitenga Girls Secondary School. In its young life, the school is already facing its second existential crisis, the first being the dorm fire. Together, we made it through the first crisis and ended up stronger and better. Together, we can do it again. This time, the school is part of a greater, global challenge—much of what happens will be out of any one individual’s control. Acknowledging such limitations, we can and must identify what we can influence, strengthen and prepare, in confidence that again we will emerge on the other side, stronger and better.

We want to make sure you are kept abreast of what we understand is happening in Kitenga and Tanzania right now:

*As of today, there appear to be 12 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Tanzania, none in the region where the school is located. It’s difficult to discern if the low number of confirmed cases is a result of COVID-19 not being widespread in the country, or the result of limited testing.

*The Government of Tanzania appears to have taken serious heed to World Health Organization warnings and guidelines. On March 17, they proactively closed all schools nation-wide one day after identifying their first confirmed case. They have also limited air travel and mandated self-quarantine for people who have travelled abroad.

*Within 24 hours of the mandate to close schools, all Kitenga students were safely back home. The IHSA school administration, teachers and other staff remain living on campus, in their homes.

*An added difficulty in this already difficult time is the continuation of the abnormal, heavy, and incessant rains—making the movement of people, vehicles, supplies, food and materials even more challenging than usual. This is a challenge across Tanzania.

We are actively working with the Sisters and our stakeholders to determine how GEC can provide the most effective and meaningful support during this time. While things are very fluid and we realize they are likely to continue to be, we are actively developing a COVID-19 response plan that we will share with you.

This is not our first time at this rodeo – after the dorm fire we worked with the Sisters and activated an emergency response plan, funded it, implemented it, and re-opened the school. I have written and spoken a lot about the resiliency we witnessed during that crisis. I know we will see it again. Never has it been so important to be working hand in hand through deep partnership, and to be supported by a committed community—you.

During this global crisis, we will keep an eye on our end-game: ensuring that girls can get the educations they seek and deserve. Day to day, our unwavering yet responsive support for the Kitenga School community-at-large continues. Please stay tuned for more details on what that will look like in the days to come.

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