COVID-19 hit our work in our country offices in Uganda and Indonesia quite hard. Since its global spread last year, we have had to deal with a lot of challenges that have impacted the implementation of Fairventures activities in the field enormously. This year alone we postponed several big plans, such as the first harvesting of the lightwood planted by farmers at the beginning of the 1 Million Trees program in Indonesia. In Uganda, there were government-imposed curfews that intermittently made all field activities impossible. Our Farmer Training Facilitator Ntajumba Bernard tells us that the farmers are still very cautious and afraid of infection. Therefore, some weekly meetings such as for the Bwera farmers group have been canceled. Due to the limited possibilities of monitoring the activities and supporting the farmers on-site, some of the planted tree seedlings also died prematurely. Ntajumba adds that this is also due to the fact that many farmers had other priorities and feared for the lives of their families. Such concerns are understandable, considering the fact that local health care systems, especially in rural areas, are very limited in their capacities and can be very expensive for the farmers.
Most of our staff, including the field staff, were often obligated to work from home. In most cases, their children were also at home because schools were closed. It is incredible to see the dedication and creativity of our team in managing these difficult times. Due to the many additional household tasks, we voluntarily often worked overtime in the evenings to ensure that our activities could continue on schedule. In this time, in addition to better technical equipment and advancing digitization of our work, the power of innovation has risen to overcome almost impossible hurdles in order to live up to our mission. We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of our field teams in both countries, who are doing so much to support the farmers in the best possible way.
Above all, the hardest thing in this pandemic is seeing some of our colleagues infected with the virus, some of them losing their loved ones to it. The hospital visits and mourning cost many of our team members a lot of strength and it will take time for all of us to recover from this great burden.
When we reflect on this time, we appreciate being able to leave the house and work in beautiful nature all the more. We have learned that we can only manage such challenges if we stand together as a team and everyone can rely on each other. And we have an amazing team trying to keep doing everything they can to continue supporting the farmers as far as restrictions allow. The support we have received from our donors and partners from around the world was overwhelming. We hope things will improve in the near future with the ongoing worldwide vaccination campaign. However, there is still a long way to go and we need to stand strong together.