by Jiaxin Xu and Valentina Ko
2020 has been challenging to everyone, to say the least. The global pandemic that is COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in more ways than one. International travel was brought to a stop, and for a few months, the world went into a lockdown, causing distress in our communities as many amongst us tried to carry on with work, while at the same time, adjusting to the needs or our society.
On that end, how did APC re-calibrate ourselves?
The core of our work is to remain engaged with our members and the wider community. Without the ability to hold our usual roundtables and ecosystem-building convening, we pivoted online. As of the end of June 2020, APC has held a total of six online dialogues with our members over specific issues of discussion. Ranging from regional responses to COVID-19, to how the global shutdown has impacted the environment and philanthropists’ attention on climate philanthropy. Each of these online discussions has inspired us to dig deep into what we are doing and how we can continue to fill the gaps for our community.
On a more fundamental level, some members are hoping to address the systemic challenges that the pandemic have exposed. During this time of immense need, APC has remained robust and responsive to the dynamic challenges on the ground. APC projects have been adjusting their strategy and tactical approaches in order to ensure that the communities they are serving are not affected. Our education projects based in Indonesia and Malaysia, INSPIRASI and Pemimpin GSL have not only transitioned to online training and coaching for school leaders, but are also ensuring that students do not fall behind during this period by providing additional resources and support. Our implementing partners for the Thousand Days Fund project have been working with community leaders including the National Taskforce for COVID-19 response led by Indonesia National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and the Ministry of Health to ensure that strategic objectives will still be met. Finally, our ASEAN Peace Initiatives project saw our beneficiary organisation, Peace Generation adapting their curriculum to an e-commerce platform, while at the same time, holding large-scale gatherings and conferences online with their youth networks to ensure continuity.
APC’s New Efforts
At the same time, APC has also remained in active discussion to address the emerging societal needs and how philanthropist can continue filling in the gaps. At our home base in Singapore, the COVID-19 pandemic saw massive outbreaks in our migrant worker dormitories. Within days of our Singapore roundtable on 23 April, the APC Secretariat reached out to the major migrant worker non-profits and collated a list of their urgent needs. Our members responded resoundingly to the appeal, raising significant funds and in-kind supplies for three key non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within 48 hours. Funds raised for Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) were distributed as emergency rent support for Special Pass workers that might face eventual evictions, while Healthserve received a grant to provide emergency financial assistance, as well as a shipment of PPE supplies to safeguard its continued commitment to serving the medical needs of the workers. Funds were also raised for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) which will go towards establishing a new help-desk for male migrant workers to better manage an expected increase in caseload, alongside other initiatives to protect Singapore’s migrant workers.
COVID-19 has definitely made a huge impact on our society. As we move forward into the ‘new-normal’, APC is committed to our vision of a better Asia through collaborative philanthropy. Until we get a chance to see each other again, our team will continuously work to ensure that there are opportunities for our philanthropists to help fill the gaps that the pandemic has brought through digital means. At the same time, we are making sure that we still retain engagement with our members and thought leaders to learn and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems.