Isabella, one the of iamtheCODE young girls sent me a WhatsApp message yesterday asking how I was doing with my family. She saw on the news that London was not doing well with COVID-19 and got worried that she will not see me again. She loved it when I visited them and organised hackathons and digital clubs.
I asked how she’s coping with her family. Isabella is a victim of gang rape, was abused and molested multiple times and now lives in a foster home which is not ideal but safer than where she was before.
During the exchange, I told her I was ok, and my son is too. She went quiet for a while and then said to me that things are really tough at home. There is not enough food for everyone in the family; she had to wait for a long time before she eats. There is only one meal a day.
She then told me that her foster dad is a clerk and used to eat at work, now he is not eating at work, he is hungry and gets angry quickly. He may loose his job as he was working for an agency.
I asked if there is anything I can do to help, she asked if could send her money for air-time and food.
After our call, I realised that thousands of people are going hungry because of the Free lunch they were getting in companies before this Crisis.
Companies are closed, no more organic food at the canteen for the low-ranked workers in global companies, no more latte, no more balanced diet or favourite drink.
Companies like Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, have the reputation of bringing chefs to cook in the headquarters. Employees can enjoy organic food and beverages, including fresh coconut milk, at their cafeterias.
I loved having Chocolates bars or icecream each time I visited Unilever offices in London and the cereals bars at Google Offices in London.
The Crisis is revealing some unprecedented discomfort for families with very low incomes. Alcohol is on the rise, child molestation, and domestic violence.
The other thing that worried me with Isabella’s call is that I know how sexual abuse is on the increase in the kind of home that she is living in during the lockdown. I was abused multiple times in closed rooms and houses and nobody took action.
Millions of girls are living in homes and communities where sexual abuse is prevalent and rampant. During the #Covid19 pandemic the predators have the girls near them, how can we prevent molestations and sexual assaults in these difficult times where people are asked to self-isolate. We must educate our girls and put safeguarding in place.
UN chief António Guterres had called for a global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls but this call will not protect young girls immediately, not now!! Another wish that will not help girls globally. Homes are presumed place of safety for girls. Girls wellbeing must be at the front and centre.
iamtheCODE Wellbeing has launched a conversation webinar series during this lockdown period to support girls and share information on how they can protect their bodies and minds.
You can check our contribution page and donate so we can get the girls, water, food and Air-time. When a girl has got her phone lauded with Air-time, she can reach iamtheCODE and our communities for help. We need collective effort.