Caring in crisis: The experiences of local faith leaders meeting community food needs in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Background: Unintended consequences from public health measures have inspired a wave of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, where extensive and strict community quarantines exacerbated food insecurity, countless individuals, organizations, and institutions reached out to care for those most affected. International Care Ministries (ICM), a Philippines- and faith-based non-governmental organization (NGO), responded by mobilizing resources through its Rapid Emergencies and Disasters Intervention (REDI), a program which functions through a broad network of volunteer faith leaders local to the areas ICM works. The purpose of the study was to explore the experiences of faith leaders caring for their communities through REDI involvement during the pandemic with the aim to inform the program moving forward. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 25 REDI faith leaders remotely via Skype in Negros Occidental, Philippines between November 2020 and January 2021. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis approach. Ethics of care provided theoretical framing for the study. Thus, the efforts of faith leaders were understood as a type of care work, and ethics of care broadly informed study design, data analysis, and research presentation. Results: Faith leaders practiced care for community members through REDI by navigating care responsibilities, leveraging relationships, and engaging holistically with the care work. That is, faith leaders were greatly motivated to meet community food needs, drew on a depth of commitment and creativity to accomplish tasks, reached out to personal relations to elicit and provide support with care tasks, navigated a range of complex circumstances and emotions with optimism, and offered emotional and spiritual care alongside material aid. Conclusion: Participant narratives emphasized the integral roles of responsibility, relationality, and emotion to the care work. The accounts of faith leaders also highlighted contextual elements of their care practice; namely, the humanitarian setting, partnership with ICM, positionality as local faith leaders, and locatedness in the Philippines. Further, their experiences revealed the inherently complex nature of care. This study expands and complicates our understanding of care by examining an under explored form of care work within ethics of care. In addition, findings bring visibility to the efforts of faith leaders in humanitarian crises.
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Shoshannah Joanna Speers (2022). Caring in crisis: The experiences of local faith leaders meeting community food needs in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18604