Impact of the coronavirus in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

WAVS students and staff have been proactively cleaning and disinfecting the school in anticipation of the coronavirus outbreak.

April 2, 2020 Update: The WAVS School is currently closed because of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the staff from helping the community.

Lili, the School Director, went to the Canchungo hospital to ask what the staff could do to support them and the community during this crisis. They said they didn’t have enough money for fuel to drive around and educate the community about COVID-19. Lili made an audio recording and drove around Canchungo each day playing it and talking with different community members about COVID-19 and what they should be doing. He did this for five days and earlier this week finished visiting all the neighborhoods in Canchungo.

The staff is continuing to work with the local hospitals to see what additional help they can be during this time.

April 1, 2020: Eight cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Guinea-Bissau. The country is under a state of emergency until April 11. The government has requested for businesses to close and essential businesses can only be open from 7 AM until 11 AM.

March 25, 2020: Guinea-Bissau has reported its first two cases of coronavirus. The patients are a Congolese U.N. employee and an Indian citizen.

March 19, 2020: The coronavirus is already impacting West Africa. In Guinea-Bissau, schools have shut down and the borders have closed. But the WAVS School staff continue to press on.

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Guinea-Bissau and very few in West Africa. However, the country’s healthcare system is extremely fragile and any outbreak could be very difficult to contain.

In response, the government has followed the lead of other countries and closed its borders. And on Wednesday, it also ordered all schools to close until the end of March, including the WAVS School campuses in Canchungo and Gabu. School staff will continue to receive their salaries during this closure. In the meantime, the teachers have provided their students with materials they can use for home study.

Concerns about a coronavirus outbreak in Guinea-Bissau have only added to the country’s existing burdens. It is already struggling with a months-long strike by public school teachers, as well as political instability in the wake of last December’s inconclusive presidential election. More than ever, prayers are needed for our friends in West Africa.

We will continue to monitor the situation so that we can ensure the health and safety of both our local staff and our American staff based in Guinea-Bissau.

In the midst of all the uncertainty and worry, we remember that we can trust God in all circumstances.

And we celebrate the milestones we’ve accomplished together, including the recent launch of a partnership with the government of Japan to build the first classroom building on the new campus in Bissau. We expect to break ground on this building soon.

And finally, we remember that all of us – staff, donors, and volunteers – are invested in a long-term vision to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to pursue a brighter future. Momentary worries like this won’t deter us.

Thank you for making that investment. And thank you for your prayers for the people of Guinea-Bissau and the WAVS School staff during this difficult time.