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A Shelter to Rely On: How A Child in Lombok Survived During Pandemic

Uwais, a one-year old healthy baby boy in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia had to be separated from his parents because of the pandemic. While Uwais — thankfully — tested negative for COVID-19, it was a different story with his parents and his extended family. Samsudin - Uwais’ father had to be hospitalized for two weeks, meanwhile, Uwais’ mother, aunty, and his grandparents were isolated at home.
Indeed, it was a tough time for the family. The family was grappling to find a safe place for their baby who was still breastfeeding. The hospital recommended to send him to a childcare shelter, however, because of the pandemic, almost all public services and childcare facilities have been shut down. Later, Uwais had to be moved to a volunteer’s house in search of a better care - only to fell sick in the first few days.    
It was not until later, when a good deed doer goes by the name of Ibu (Indonesian for Miss) Erna, voluntarily gave Uwais roof above his head and food on the table. Ibu Erna who works for Child Welfare Service Center (Pusat Kesejahteraan Sosial Anak (PKSAI) in Mataram, Lombok, rose to the challenge and welcomed Uwais as her own. She regularly picks up her phone to let Uwais’ parents know his condition, sometimes with a heart-warming video calls and tons of photos. “I am so glad that Uwais is safe and healthy, even though we are stuck at the hospital. I am truly grateful and appreciate all the effort that the PSKAI team has made for my boy during this difficult period,” said Samsudin.
Today, Uwais finally reunited with his parents. “Uwais looks happier and healthier than ever before. He is now learning to walk and remains an active boy. I never want to experience this situation again. The lesson I learned from this situation is to always take care of my family by following the health protocol, especially during this pandemic, “Samsudin ended.
COVID-19 has been a threat to people’s lives worldwide. It is not only disrupting our health system; it creates a huge social and economic burden that threatens people’s well-being around the world. Millions of children are in danger of missing out on essential family care and unable to attend school. Women and children, as the most vulnerable group, become Indonesia’s most vulnerable population without adequate protection from the adverse socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic has forced us to act fast and equip our staff with skills and resources to deal with various emergency situations. UNICEF has been a great partner in ensuring we provide our best service, on time. The necessary resources have also enabled us to urge the local government to prepare adequate Technical Implementation Unit and open more adaptive collaboration with the Social Affairs Agency,” said Joko Jumadi, Head of PKSAI Lombok.  
With the COVID-19 Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the United Nations team in the country is bolstering its support to the government to protect the most vulnerable groups from the devastating socio-economic fallout from the health crisis. In other words, the United Nations team including agencies such as UNICEF is working around the clock to make sure there is no other Uwais that must endure the same condition.

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