COVID 19 has changed our lives and I hope that you are managing to cope with all of the restrictions imposed on us. I hope most sincerely that you and are your family are healthy and safe.
COVID 19 has also made a significant impact on the work of your charity, Vine Trust. As Chairman, I want to update you with the current status as follows:
- All school trips planned for this summer to Tanzania have been cancelled.
- We have an expedition trip to Kazunzu, Tanzania planned for October but it is at risk.
- All bookings of medical volunteers for Peru and Tanzania are at risk for the remainder of this year.
- MV Forth Hope and MV Amazon Hope, based in Iquitos, Peru, have been berthed at the request of the Peruvian Authorities since the start of April. Our key medical team, based in Peru, are working for the Ministry of Health.
- MV Jubilee Hope stopped its work on Lake Victoria last week and is berthed in Mwanza, Tanzania.
- We closed the Barge office in Leith, Edinburgh at the start of the lockdown in UK and 5 of our staff are currently on furlough with the remaining 3 staff working from home.
Although we finished 2019 in a good financial position, we now seek to save costs throughout each of the programmes to get through 2020. The UK government support through the furlough scheme has been helpful for meeting the wage costs of our staff. We continue to plan to construct key buildings and to start the fish farms in Kazunzu, Tanzania, as the resources are available to do so. These plans may change if COVID 19 causes further restrictions to movement in Tanzania. An additional challenge in Tanzania is that they have experienced very high rainfall over the past few weeks with severe flooding across the country making access to the site at Kazunzu more difficult.
Our partners, AICT, TAWREF and ELCT in Tanzania continue with their programmes to provide shelter and care for the vulnerable people in their areas. Tanzania is beginning to show significant increases in positive cases of COVID 19. In Peru, the lockdown is easing but the medical programme will not restart in order to protect the villages in the Amazon. Conditions in Iquitos are very difficult with many cases of COVID19 and a lack of equipment and medical resources.
We remain very concerned for our staff in Tanzania and Peru, especially our frontline medical teams some of whom have tested positive to COVID 19. Much of the work of Vine Trust in UK has paused during the lockdown and we will restart when the restrictions are eased. We thank you for your support during these challenging times and we look forward to sharing further news in the next few weeks. Many of our bookings for this year have rebooked for 2021 which we hope will be another year of significant progress.
Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook sites for news on a regular basis.
Many thanks again for your continued support
Alec Carstairs, Chairman