Louisa Jordan and the importance of our international connections

By 6th May 2020 May 11th, 2020 Blogs

The announcement that Scotland’s new temporary emergency care hospital in Glasgow was named to honour a woman who had recognised the importance of supporting those in need, including those beyond her country’s borders, came as a bright note on a grey day.

I was also surprised by an unexpected personal connection: for a few months in 2004 I lived five minutes from the cemetery where Nurse Jordan is buried, commuting from south Serbia to work on a reconciliation programme in Kosovo before moving to be based in the community full time. That personal connection followed another, as my husband and I first met through work on a post-conflict gun control initiative in the Balkans – fifty years after my grandfather had served as a naval doctor on the British ships bringing weapons to Tito as part of the Allied war effort.

We are surrounded by loops and links of history that remind us of how connected we are to countries and communities overseas: emigration and immigration, conflict and recovery, trade and colonisation. Our history has left us with national capacity and resources to establish a new hospital to meet the needs of this new pandemic, but many countries lack such resources.

Corra manages two international grant programmes for the Scottish Government, working to support around 50 grants for organisations working overseas with many communities that have limited access to healthcare. The pandemic has brought multiple challenges: beyond the social distancing restrictions in place here, our grantholders often struggle to reach partners and colleagues who don’t have the benefit of stable internet or phone service.

Recognising the difficult situations organisations are working in and understanding just how important it is that the support offered to partners overseas can continue, Corra’s international team has been reviewing how we can help. We know it’s vital that these grants continue to provide agricultural support to remote rural communities, to help school children with distance learning, and to provide babies with disabilities with the treatments they need safely – although the ways this support will be delivered will look different from original plans.

One step we have been able to take is to offer immediate unrestricted microgrants of £500 to most of these current grantholders. These grants from Corra’s own funds have gone to cover a range of urgent costs, mainly basic hand washing equipment such as soap and tapped buckets, PPE for medical staff and community workers, as well as mobile phone credit and additional phone handsets to help people stay in touch at a time when that becomes even more crucial.

Defeating this virus will not be possible without reaching out and working with others internationally. I sometimes worry that this might get lost as people instinctively focus on protecting those close to them, and so the dedication of the new hospital was a heartening signal that Scotland will continue to look outwards and act in solidarity with those in need overseas.

Honouring our fierce NHS heroes of today with rainbows and Thursday claps, when we are next able to travel, we will be taking our Scottish-Serbian kids to pay our respects to Louisa Jordan, another hero and historical inspiration.

By Chrissie Hirst, Project Manager (International)

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The Corra international micro-grants have helped the following 27 organisations support their in-country partners to respond to the new challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic:

Name of Scottish organisation Country where local partner based and response efforts supported
Lake Victoria Disability Centre Scotland Tanzania
On Call Africa Zambia
Smileawi Malawi
Africa on the Ball Zambia
Charity Education International Bangladesh
International Voluntary Service Kenya
The Logie Legacy Zambia
Kilcheran Pakistan
YES! Tanzania Tanzania
Youth for Economic Justice Myanmar
Diverse Talent Zambia
Just Wheels Tanzania
STEKAskills Malawi
Isaro Community Initiative Rwanda
Friends of Chitambo Zambia
Renew Democratic Republic of Congo
Turing Trust Malawi
Seed for life Malawi
International Resources and Recycling Institute Malawi
LUV+ (Leprosy at Utale Village Plus) Malawi and Zambia
Children’s Medical Care Malawi Malawi
Aiming Higher in Malawi Malawi
The Balmore Trust Malawi
Cerebral Palsy Africa Malawi
Malawi Fruits Malawi
Twende Pamoja Tanzania
Children of Rwanda Rwanda
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