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July updates on the COVID-19 situation in our Program Countries 

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More than 18 months after COVID-19 emerged as a once in a lifetime, worldwide challenge, the pandemic is still an ongoing concern in all our Program Countries across Africa, India and Bangladesh, as well as in our offices in Australia. 

The Hunger Project Australia is in regular communication with our teams on the ground, delivering updates from our communities and Village Partners.  

We strive to share with our community in Australia up-to-date and above all accurate information about the current situation on the village frontlines.  


Across the continent, Africa is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. New weekly cases have now exceeded the peak of the second wave which began in January of this year. While the vaccine rollout did start in some African countries, only 2% of the continent’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

To date, 23 countries in Africa are experiencing this surge of COVID cases, including our Program Countries of Uganda, Zambia, Senegal and Malawi. 

Uganda is so far one of the worst-affected countries during this third wave, and they are currently in a national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID. Rural communities are being impacted but it is hard to tell what the full depth of the situation is because testing numbers in rural areas are lower than rates in the cities.  

Zambia has re-introduced COVID-19 restrictions after the rise in daily cases, peaking at over 3,000 cases a day in mid-July. This has included the closure of schools, limits on some public gatherings, and mask-wearing and social distancing on public transport. So far the virus has been contained in the cities and has not reached rural areas; because of this, our Epicentre work can continue with strict COVID-safe measures in place.  

Senegal is one of the more recent countries to begin experiencing the third wave. The team at The Hunger Project Senegal are working remotely now and have been a leading voice in a vaccine-promotion campaign.  

Cases in Malawi have started to increase, and the government has re-introduced restrictions, including a nightly curfew, limits on public gatherings, international border restrictions, mandatory mask-wearing, and restrictions on workplaces.  

Benin is still reporting very few COVID cases and thus far is not experiencing a third wave yet.  

Similarly, cases are still low in Ghana– though there has been a slight daily increase in cases in Ghana over the past couple of weeks.  

South Asia 

India has moved past the peak in cases that was seen in April and May, and COVID-19 case numbers and deaths are now declining. There are still a number of cases and deaths across the country, but the rate of spread has decreased immensely. Vaccination rates are increasing but there are fears of another wave of infections if vaccinations aren’t delivered out into rural areas. 

Bangladesh has unfortunately experienced its own second wave, with cases reaching a high of over 13,000 cases a day in the past week alone. To curb the spread of cases, the country instituted its most strict, military-enforced lockdown, only allowing people to leave their houses for emergencies and to buy essential items, with all public transport, non-essential shops, and offices closed. Lockdown is scheduled to be lifted in time for the country’s second-largest religious festival, Eid al-Adha, which takes place from 20 July – July 22. There are concerns that this could lead to a huge increase in cases. 

You can keep up to date with The Hunger Project on social media or sign up to our email newsletters. You can also give now to The Hunger Project’s work in building stronger communities across Africa, India and Bangladesh.  

The Bangladeshi tailors behind our facemasks.

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You can now purchase one of our facemasks made with love in Bangladesh and enable the employment of Bangladeshi women so that they can earn an income and support their families during this challenging time. These beautiful limited-edition, handmade face masks have been made with love by tailors that The Hunger Project Bangladesh has worked closely with for years. Meet the women who made them.

Mahfuza Rimi

Mahfuza is the sole breadwinner in her house, caring solo for her two teenage children since her recent divorce after 21 years. Just 2 years ago she took the brave step of opening up a small shop and offering her services as a tailor, a craft she’s been dedicated to for 15 years. Being from a remote village, running her own business in the city was a steep learning curve, and despite earning some income through it, it’s never enough to cover her family and business expenses. Now with the pandemic, orders have completely dried up, putting pressure on her and her employees who also depend on the shop for their livelihoods. She believes through this partnership with THP Australia and accessing a new customer base for her work, she will be able to earn what she needs to look after her family! 

Munira Begum

Munira has been married to her husband for 30 years. Together, they have two children. Munira’s husband has been sick for many years and is unable to work, so she is the sole breadwinner for her family The whole family depends on the income that Munira earns as a tailor. The pandemic has made it more difficult than ever before for Munira to earn an income as tailoring orders come to a near standstill. This partnership means that Munira can continue to run her business, earn an income and support her family. 


Support Munira and Mahfuza by purchasing a facemask today!

Innovations arise during COVID-19 in our Program Countries.

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Hunger and poverty create the perfect storm for a disaster to take hold, and this has been proven throughout the pandemicIn India, the number of recorded COVID-19 cases has surpassed 5 million. There have been over 1 million cases across Africa, and more than 300,000 in Bangladesh. However, with inadequate testing and few health facilities, these numbers are likely to be much higher in reality, and the task of stopping the spread much more challengingThe Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the pandemic will force an additional 83 to 132 million people to live in hunger every day (read more about the link between hunger and COVID-19 here).

In the face of COVID-19, the core tenets of The Hunger Project’s work are as relevant as ever and have set us up in the best possible position to respond. Our long-term work promoting local leadership, strong systems, and resilience are all critical as communities navigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19. The very model we work within enables our village partners to proactively respond to the virus and the lasting effects of lockdown.  

The following are just two excellent examples from Uganda and Ghana on how innovation and creativity have been unleashed: 

Firstly, meet Irene Sara from Uganda: 

“From the trainings by The Hunger Project, I learnt that food can be stored for a long time. During times of scarcity…I am [now] food secure.” 

In this video, hear how how she has achieved food security for herself and her family and is able to earn an income even during the pandemic.  

Secondly, meet a group of young women in Ghana: 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the country was short ofmasks. Most of them were imported When the situation got worse, we decided to mobilise people using locally-made materials. This has improved access and usage [for the community].” 

In this video, hear how the THP-Ghana team adapted their skills-training workshops during COVID-19 so that young women  many who have had to drop out of school because of pregnancy due to child marriage – learn dressmaking and earn an income to support themselves. 


Want to learn more? 

You can find out about our COVID-19 framework for action and what we’ve achieved so far in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in THP communities here 

Make an impact today

So many of you have already generously invested during COVID-19 — thank you! Both our regular programs and COVID-19 initiatives are ongoing, so your investment today will continue to enable people to protect themselves and their familiesand also lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Reach out to 16.5 million people living in THP communities in Africa, India and Bangladesh by investing here. 

New update: number of people living in hunger on the rise

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The number of people living in hunger is again on the rise.

After a long period of decline, this is now the fifth year in a row that the number of people living in hunger is increasing. The 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report released in July 2020 explores the ongoing rise in global hunger. Since the world committed to ending food insecurity and malnutrition in 2015, global hunger has steadily increased. While previous reports have focused on climate and economic barriers, this year’s report focuses on broadening the scope of food security and nutrition to include diets which are healthy and sustainable for all, especially for our environment.

Last year, SOFI reported 821.6 million people living in hunger. This year it is reporting 690 million living in hunger.

At first glance, this looks like a downward trend. This difference is due to a different use of data from China between 2000 and now. According to the new data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), there is actually a significant increase. Once we’ve considered China’s data accuracy, the number of hungry people in the rest of the world continues to climb.



5 facts about world hunger:

  1. 690 million people (1 in 11) in the world are chronically hungry, while 750 million people (1 in 10) are living in severe food insecurity.
  2. Asia is home to 381 million hungry people, Africa 250 million and Latin America and the Caribbean report 48 million people.
  3. In total, 2 billion people live every day with some form of food insecurity or hunger.
  4. There are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014.
  5. If this trend continues, more than half of the hungry people will live in Africa by 2030 — the year by which we’re working to end hunger.

The effect of hunger on children

Hunger is about more than just undereating. Nutritious food is still too expensive and insufficiently available for many families. As many as 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to enough healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.

47 million children have a permanent growth delay as a result, 144 million children are seriously disadvantaged, and more than 38 million children are overweight due to one-sided, incorrect nutrition.

COVID-19 could result in an additional 132 million people living in hunger.

Because the research took place last year, the impact of COVID-19 has not been included in these figures. The FAO estimates that the pandemic will force an additional 83 to 132 million people to live in hunger every day. The Hunger Project is therefore committed to working with 500,000 trained local volunteers in 13 countries so that as many people as possible can protect themselves and their families against COVID-19 and avoid falling below the poverty line. Read more about our COVID-19 response here.

Together, we can end hunger.

The Hunger Project still believes that we can drastically reverse this upward trend through continuing to run our programs that address hunger holistically and create sustainable change. Investment in the end of hunger is crucial to continue our program work and enable people to lift themselves, their families and communities out of hunger. You can find out more about our work here and invest in ending hunger here.

The  2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World  report is a publication of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program ( WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Thank you for joining Badiul for ‘From the village frontlines in Bangladesh’.

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We hope you found the discussion between Dr. Badiul Majumdar and Deborah Protter insightful, uncovering what life under lockdown in Bangladesh is like and how THP’s unique approach to unleashing people’s potential has created the foundations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in rural villages.

“If The Hunger Project’s strategy was replicated throughout [Bangladesh] then COVID-19 could be under control in 4 weeks.” — Dr. Mushtuq Husain, an advisor to Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in Bangladesh.

For those of you who weren’t able to join us, you can catch up via our recording here [run time 59 minutes].

Our 5 key takeaways from the call:

1. Bangladesh is facing a huge health challenge: official data shows there are more than 220,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,000 deaths, but testing is very limited and unreliable so actual numbers are likely much higher. Plus: healthcare infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with the crisis, lacking sufficient ICU beds or ventilators; there is widespread corruption and political divisiveness across the country; expert opinions are ignored; and misinformation is circulating.

2. The pandemic is affecting lives and livelihoods. About 90% of people are employed in the informal sector and are daily wage earners (e.g. shopkeepers) – many are now unemployed and on the brink of starvation. Violence against women is rising and the prevalence of child marriage has increased.

3. The mighty force of 270,000 volunteer leaders (called Animators) trained in Bangladesh since 1993 are THP’s greatest asset in confronting COVID-19Watch this short video to learn about our unique approach in Bangladesh which THP has leveraged to face this new challenge.

4. Animators like Anju have mobilised themselves to create an incredible 1,500 coronavirus-resilient communities across rural Bangladesh.

5. THP Bangladesh’s 4-stage strategy of stopping the spread of COVID-19 has proven simple and effective:

1) Accepting the situation and creating a community mindset

2) Communicating to educate, dispel myths and change behaviour

3) Quarantine, testing and isolation

4) Community philanthropy

Take Action

“We have to mobilise the community. It’s up to us.” — Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar.  

On the call, Badiul made it clear that while a lot of great work has been undertaken already to stop the spread of COVID-19, more remains to be done. We invite you to partner with Badiul, his team and us to unleash the human spirit and create coronavirus-resilient villages across Bangladesh. You can invest here or start a conversation with us.

Thank you for joining us for our third online event in this series, and thank you to our presenting partner GJK Facility Services. We look forward to connecting with you again soon!


Thanks to you, we far exceeded our COVID-19 fundraising goal.

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You reached out and helped raise $302,345!

We asked you to stay in to activate The Hunger Project’s 500,000 highly trained community leaders on the ‘village frontlines’ of this pandemic to reach out to 16.5 million people in their communities. Your generosity truly blew us away! Collectively, you invested an incredible $302,345. At a time where we know you are all navigating your own challenges, you were expansive in your thinking and actions, and gave what you could to enable others to protect themselves and their families. We thank you for that.

We are so proud to say that your generosity combined with the leadership of our village partners created outstanding results. Your investment, together with investments from all around the world, enabled our local volunteer leaders to quickly mobilise their communities and respond to COVID-19 with ingenuity and strength. They didn’t take on a victim mindset or wait for help to come from outside sources; instead, due to years of training with THP, they adopted a leader mindset and were empowered to take action themselves.

Together here’s what our village partners achieved:



  • 4,354 Tippy Taps installed in villages to bring simple handwashing stations close to the homes of people. Animators (local volunteer leaders) have led the education and training in how to properly use them.
  • 8,000 Elected Women and 3,600 Adolescent Girls trained by THP formed phone trees and What’s App groups to deliver accurate, easy-to-understand health information to 500,000 people.
  • 9,400 community members participated in specially designed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene workshops so they are personally equipped to prevent the spread.
  • 137,160 face masks made and distributed – ‘sewing armies’ have been set up in some areas to learn from one another and keep collectively strong while giving back.
  • 97,465 food rations distributed to those who have been identified by Elected Women as on the brink of absolute destitution. Although THP usually has a ‘No handouts’ policy, this new idea was put forward by Elected Women who saw the dire need in their villages.
  • 135,709 public health leaflets distributed. These have often been translated into local languages or the information is shown in pictures, so that as many people as possible can understand them.



Thank you to everyone who brought this campaign to life and made it such a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.


Our generous partners and supporters:

Bared Footwear
Business Chicks
Coffees and Style
Conexus Financial 
Diane Grady & Chris Komor
Elizabeth McIntyre
Got You Girl
Hamilton Locke
Hey Tiger
Roger Massy-Greene

Ruby PR Agency 
Simon Blackburn & Niamh Brosnan
Social Diary 
Studio 10 
The Beeren Foundation
The Brand Brigade
The Fit Foodie
The Protter Family
Ticker TV 
Urban List 
Wellness in Real Life

This #StayInReachOut campaign has once again proved to us that when like-minded and like-hearted people come together to make a difference in the world, anything is possible. Your partnership – especially at this time – means so much to us. Thank you for being part of the global THP community!

An Update on our COVID-19 Response

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Our COVID-19 response

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the core tenets of The Hunger Project’s work are as relevant as ever. Our long-term work promoting local leadership, strong systems, and resilience are all critical as communities navigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
The Hunger Project has mobilised 500,000 trained, local leaders in 13 countries around the world to create COVID-Resilient Communities in each of the 13,600 villages where we work. Our program leadership created a Framework for Action designed to be tailored to each local context, empowering community leaders with the tools and information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

Our Framework for Action

At the community level – a 5-point plan:

  1. Spreading awareness and understanding – of how to stay safe by promoting hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing face coverings in public, and debunking misinformation
  2. Ensuring access to hand washing stations – for every household and in key public places
  3. Identifying symptomatic residents – linking them to health officials where possible and assisting them to isolate
  4. Ensuring relief for those who are destitute – either from public safety nets or community philanthropy, and encouraging innovation to preserve livelihoods
  5. Promoting community peace, trust and cohesion – introducing strategies to halt stigma, social unrest, scapegoating, gender-based violence, and child marriage

Response Highlights

The community-led response to COVID-19 looks different in each country. Some of the actions we have taken in partnership with our network of leaders include:
  • Installing 2,200 “Tippy Taps” (touchless handwashing stations) in Benin
  • Raising $300,000 through community philanthropy to support the most impacted people in 1,900 villages in Bangladesh
  • Equipping 8,000 elected women in India with information to share with their constituents  and distributing food and sanitation packs to 11,654 of the most vulnerable households in Bihar
  • Using radio to reach up to 718,000 people across Africa with messages about preventing the spread of COVID-19

Make an Impact

If you would like to reach 16.5 million people in Africa, India and Bangladesh and enable them to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, you can invest here.

Animators Rise To The COVID-19 Challenge

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Many of you have been curious to hear about how your fellow Animators and Elected Women have been responding to the pandemic. You know better than most people the kinds of challenges they are facing – lack of access to clean water and sanitation, illiteracy and misinformation, long distances from health facilities and more. All this, on top of still dealing with the daily challenge of overcoming your own hunger and poverty. 

We are so proud to say that they have really stepped up to the challenge! 

What we have noticed so clearly is that rather than having a victim mindset or waiting for help to come from outside – which would be so easy to do under the circumstances – due to the years of mindset shift training with THP they have instead adopted a leader mindset and are empowered to take action. 

In fact, we have already seen the 500,000 Animators we’ve trained to date quickly mobilise and respond to COVID-19 with ingenuity and strength at the local level! 


Animators Rising To The Challenge – In Numbers

  • 3,326 Tippy Taps installed in villages to bring simple handwashing stations close to the homes of people. Animators have led the education and training in how to properly use them   

A Tippy Tap in Benin.

  • 8,000 Elected Women and 3,600 Adolescent Girls trained by THP formed phone trees and What’s App groups to deliver accurate, easy-to-understand health information to 500,000 people 
  • 9,400 community members participated in specially designed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene workshops so they are personally equipped to prevent the spread 
  • 913 Animators newly trained in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene best practice 
  • 81,414 face masks made and distributed – ‘sewing armies’ have been set up in some areas to learn from one another and keep collectively strong while giving back 

Sewing armies have been set up in Uttarakhand, India to produce face masks to protect against COVID-19.

  • 71,912 kgs of soap and 19,096 kgs of hand sanitiser distributed to people so they can protect themselves and their families 
  • 91 operational health units in action receiving patients for testing and treatment where possible. Animators are mobilising people to get tested if they are showing signs (where testing is available) 
  • 52,399 food rations distributed to those who have been identified by Elected Women as on the brink of absolute destitution. Although THP usually has aNo handouts’ policy, this new idea was put forward by Elected Women who saw the dire need in their villages 
  • 174,797 families receiving community philanthropy (goods and cash), mobilised by Animators in Bangladesh 
  • 87,334 public health leaflets distributed. These have often been translated into local languages or the information is shown in pictures, so that as many people as possible can understand them 

Thousands of pamphlets have been distributed as part of THPB’s information campaign.


And these are just the highlights…! We hope you feel as proud as we do to stand alongside our Animators and Elected Women across Africa, India and Bangladesh as they rise to the challenge to reach the 16.5 million people living in THP communities globally. 


Want to dive in more? If you’re wondering what the impact of COVID-19 looks like in India for example, we highly recommend watching this episode of Foreign Correspondent which shows how what started as a health crisis has quickly turned into a humanitarian crisis. 

Take Action. If you’re interested and able to, we’d love to partner with you on our COVID-19 response through our Stay In, Reach Out campaign. Go to for more information. 

Life Under Lockdown — On the ‘village frontlines’ in India

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We hope you got a lot out of our discussion last night with Ruchi Yadav and Rachel Akehurst uncovering what life under lockdown in India is like, and how Elected Women are leveraging their years of leadership training with us on the village frontlines.

“We have to be aware of the different layers of the pandemic. It’s a sum of different sub-crises…. I’ve been ignited by this…We’ve said, let’s do something about this.” — Ruchi Yadav, The Hunger Project India. 

For those of you who weren’t able to join us, you can catch up via our recording here [run time 58 minutes].

Our 7 key takeaways from the call:

  • What started as a health crisis has quickly turned into a humanitarian crisis in India: because of the lockdown, many daily wage earners have completely lost their income and with that, their capacity to support themselves and their families. A staggering 140 million migrant workers are travelling from cities back to their rural villages, taking COVID-19 with them.
  • 12 million people in India could be pushed into poverty because of this pandemic – if we don’t act now.
  • The years of training by THP has directly prepared Elected Women to ask themselves ‘what can I do right now?’ (rather than waiting for instruction) and mobilise into immediate action as frontline leaders in this crisis.
  • Elected Women are uniquely placed to respond to specific local needs because they’re already on the ground, they’ve built up trusting relationships over time, and they can identify the most vulnerable people in their communities.
  • Through their established distribution network, they can easily and effectively reach every person in the villages they serve: 8,000 Elected Women together with 3,600 teenage girls have already reached an incredible 500,000 people with accurate health information and resources.
  • THP’s approach has meant we could quickly respond to the greatest need identified by Elected Women, and in an act of partnership we pivoted to extend a lifeline and deliver food parcels to 5,000 families living on the margins.
  • Even in the face of a global pandemic, one of our core principles of Human Dignity has remained at the heart of all our decision-making and actions.

“What did you do when COVID-19 hit? What was your personal legacy?” — Ruchi Yadav, The Hunger Project India. 


On the call, Ruchi Yadav alongside our CEO Melanie Noden invited us all to think about how we can leverage the resources we have available to us to connect with others. While staying in to protect yourself and your family, you can still reach out to keep 16.5 million people safe. If you are in a position to, please reach out and invest in our global ‘Stay In, Reach Out’ campaign.


Thank you to everyone who has given so far.

As you know, we’re already in action on the ground using these funds to rapidly respond to COVID-19.

In the last few days, a number of generous investors have offered to continue matching dollar for dollar your contributions. This means you still have time to DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT! If you haven’t yet, we invite you to take advantage of this extended matching period and give the equivalent of what you would spend on the things you can’t do right now – like having a beer at the pub, an overnight stay up the coast, or your weekly commute.

Our CEO, Melanie Noden, on what COVID-19 means for people living in hunger.

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One of the things I’ve been reflecting on a lot over the last couple of months is that, although we all face a common challenge in COVID-19the impact of the virus is going to play out very differently for each of us, depending on where we live in the world.  

In Australia, we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and the safety net of social welfare which some of us are dependent on right now.  

While has been tough for each and every one of us in our communitythe safety nets we have here simply do not exist in The Hunger Project’s Program Countries in Africa, India and Bangladesh.  

The impact in these countries will be far more severe if organisations like The Hunger Project don’t act quickly and effectively.  

Reaching every last person: The Hunger Project’s COVID-19 response

When COVID-19 started to have an immense global impact, we knew we needed to act.  

I think it really showed the true power of our model having 500,000 leaders trained in our communities, all ready and willing to take action to protect the 16.5 million people that we reach in some of the most rural, remote parts of the world. 

One of our main intentions was to make sure that we reached every last person 

The Hunger Project’s second pillar is to “mobilise everyone” and we’ve certainly seen the community members mobilising themselves in new and powerful ways to prevent the spread of the virus.  

The challenge and opportunity: How COVID-19 will affect our fundraising

The reality is that COVID-19 will impact fundraising for all not-for-profits. The Fundraising Institute Australia has predicted about a 20% decrease.  

Having said that, The Hunger Project has so many strengths that will see us through this challenging time.  

The first is our community of long-term, committed investors who walk with us on this journey. They know that it is a long journey, but at the end of it will be the end of hunger. They will keep us strong.  

We also have good financial governance and make sure we keep a reserve, and we always ensure that this is strong enough to keep us doing our work into the medium-term.  

The final aspect of our organisation that will keep us strong is the fact that we have incredible leverage — every dollar invested goes such a long way which makes a huge difference.  

That said, we know that it will take all of us to stop the spread of COVID-19 globallyso encourage everyone to look at how you can contribute and make a difference.  

A global issue requires a global solution: What can you do?

It’s been so wonderful seeing Australians banding together and staying home to keep the community safe. We’ve now launched a campaign ‘Stay In, Reach Out’ as a way for Australians to extend that spirit of the collective good to the global community. We invite all of us in Australia to stay in to protect our families and still reach out to 16.5 million people in THP communities. 

If you are in the position to, simply give the equivalent of what you would spend on the things you can’t do right now, and instead enable others to do what they can in order to keep safe. If that excites you, click here to invest. Thank you in advance for playing a role in being part of the global solution.  

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