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Responding to the Pandemic

How has EMI been weathering the COVID-19 storm?

By John Dallmann, CEO & President of EMI

All of us at EMI have been affected by the global pandemic. Though this crisis isn’t going to change ‘who’ we are or ‘why’ EMI exists, it has been challenging to pivot and actively work at changing some of the EMI ‘how’ and ‘what’ we do. 

I’ve been very encouraged to see God continuing to use EMI and lead us through the COVID storm. Here are a few of the ways EMI has responded:

  • EMI’s Crisis Management Teams (CMTs) continue to monitor the pandemic and create guidelines for our staff. This investment of ‘thought energy’ into the crisis is paying off. I’ve been impressed by how seamlessly staff have jumped into these roles and put their CMT training into practice!
  • EMI USA was awarded a WASH Assessment grant for a project in Alaska. The task is to determine how to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in Alaska Native communities in remote regions of the state. This could potentially lead to EMI implementing a large WASH effort in Alaska. I’m excited to enter this new territory for EMI!
The Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River pictured near Akiak. Investigation trips are planned for later this year. EMI’s assessment will identify investment opportunities for the grant organisation. Photo by Joseph, 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Service level map
According to US Government statistics, many smaller communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region are unserved or under-served in terms of water and sanitation. Map by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, anthc.org.
  • New staff candidates have continued to pursue positions with EMI despite the COVID upheaval – including two design professionals mobilized through EMI USA and one through EMI UK!
  • EMI established a Financial Impact Committee for Support in early April to assist all of our offices during the pandemic in three areas: 1) Reducing expenses, 2) Increasing / maintaining income, and 3) Providing financial & HR guidelines. 
  • To date, EMI India has given pro-bono assistance to five rural mission hospitals to prepare for COVID patients. One example is the Asha Kiran Hospital COVID-19 Ward Project for a Christian hospital in central India. I was very excited to see EMI using our design skills to support the frontlines in the fight against COVID.
Asha Kiran Hospital
Asha Kiran Hospital in southern Odisha, India, is converting a training centre into a 20-bed COVID isolation unit. EMI India helped design the layout and circulation to reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. Images courtesy of EMI India.
Asha Kiran Hospital floor plan
  • We’ve been looking for creative ways to continue design work and professional development while in lockdown. EMI Cambodia offered a Project Management virtual short-course. EMI MENA has continued ‘VIZ’ architectural rendering projects, and has engaged in remote masterplan design. 
  • After close to two months of COVID lockdown in Uganda, a relaxation of restrictions has allowed the Workshop to restart and allowed a partial re-opening of construction sites. We thank God that better than half of EMI Uganda’s construction workforce are now re-engaged. Most workers and their families rely on this income, living week to week.
Distributing food packages
During COVID lockdown, EMI Uganda construction staff Talemwa Edison, Wagwa Andres, and Kigozi George prepare to distribute packages of basic staple foods to 200 laborers of their construction workforce. Photo by Yusuf Segawa, EMI Uganda.
  • EMI USA was recently awarded a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan. While some of the intricacies of this aren’t fully clear, we feel this will be a great help to the EMI USA office’s financial picture. It also allows us to focus fundraising efforts on our overseas teams.
  • EMI’s COVID aid campaign was launched in May to help us cover the growing financial gap from canceled projects and programs. Our desire is to keep our overseas staff teams financially viable until the pandemic disruption ends and project work can resume.

Despite some very heavy blows in this COVID-19 storm, I’m amazed at how EMI is doing so far! We serve a miracle-working God! Will there be good times ahead? Let us place our faith and our hope in God!

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

About the cover: EMI USA’s Jason Chandler on a video conference call from home with a new group of Haitian engineers hired to evaluate and design improvements to hundreds of existing disaster evacuation centers in Haiti. Photo by Sarah Chandler.

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Help EMI teams weather the COVID-19 storm!

EMI is raising US$120,000 to aid our teams in Uganda, Cambodia, MENA, India, Senegal, and Nicaragua to weather COVID-19.

Your support will help us come out on the other side healthy, strong, and ready to engage in God’s work for us.