Iris Network member Altruist – COVID19 response

The Altruist Association works with children at risk and in the prevention of risky behaviors. They work in two locations, the Day Center and the Field Classroom in Bafo. Altruist program consists of working individually with a teacher, psychologist or social worker. They offer help with schoolwork or homework, as well as instructional instruction and also conduct creative educational workshops tailored to the needs of the children they work with. In addition, Altruist beneficiary are parents and entire families. They offer psychological counseling and support as needed. Due to the emergency due to the appearance of COVID – 19, the Day Center and the Field Classroom stopped working directly with the users on 12.3.2020. year, the day when the children also stopped going to school. The staff continued to work on the premises of the Center on the administrative part of the work, and on further planning of emergency work. After additional measures were introduced by the HNZ expert staff, it was decided that all staff would continue to work from home on the administrative part of the work, with regular meetings to plan work in the coming period, in extraordinary conditions. After the Day Center and Field Classroom stopped working directly with users, all Altruist activities were moved online and to social networks. All parents were personally contacted and informed that the Center would not continue to work with users on their premises, but that an alternative work plan was developed. It involves online communication via Viber messages or calls. Viber was chosen as a medium of communication because most of our users have access to it. Through Viber, parents can get the help they need in schoolwork, homework, or instructional instruction. A psychologist and / or social worker is also available to them in case of need for psychosocial support related to their or their children’s personal needs or directly related to a pandemic. Altruist also set up a Viber group where parents can ask for help with their children at school. The group was formed with the aim of creating a common database of all tasks that were done with children, but also because of the possibility of connecting our users with each other. In addition, all additional information and announcements of some events, marking important dates throughout the month can be followed by users on social networks (Facebook). It is important to emphasize that the Viber Group is made with parents, not children, to activate and involve parents in working with children and to avoid the overuse of cell phones in children.

Altruist users responded positively to the alternative work plan and immediately accepted it. Already after the first contact, customers have accepted the new mode and started working with our staff. The collaboration is mostly related to schoolwork and homework, as the school is currently held online. As for psychological counseling over the phone, there was some adjustment time. Most of the parents called because of problems with school materials, and often these conversations would turn into counseling. Given the new situation, they have recognized that parents also need counseling on how to organize the day, how to motivate their children to work and listen to school material from home, and to fulfill all their school responsibilities. Parents also have the problem of maintaining discipline at home and devising activities for children. In addition, by keeping in touch with parents, Altruist can also monitor how they cope with the situation and whether they need additional help or some intervention. Currently, parents respond well to this type of counseling and are more relaxed in seeking our help. With this mode of work, they are in constant direct communication with beneficiaries , actively cooperating and receiving constant feedback on Altruist work, on the basis of which we then plan further activities and activities. Their activities related to marking significant dates of the year and educational and creative workshops conducted on a weekly basis cannot be maintained until we start working with customers at our Center. However, they have postponed all of planned activities, and they are developing a plan for when and how they will be reimbursed and implemented. In addition, Altruist users of the Bafo Resort Classroom are mostly socially disadvantaged families. At present, material assistance is a priority, as many users are left unaccepted in this situation. On this basis, in addition to online communication, we work to secure funds and donations to provide material assistance to our vulnerable customers. For now, Altruist alternative work plan is working and they have received a positive reaction from beneficiaries . It is important to emphasize that the expert team is in constant communication with each other and adjusts the work plan according to the feedback received from parents and children.