Global Responsibility in the Age of COVID-19

OLAM Partner Organization Responses and Ways to Take Action

“May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no place to go.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home…”

(Excerpt from “Prayer for a Pandemic” by Cameron Wiggins Belm)

COVID-19 is having a serious impact on OLAM’s 50+ partners, Jewish and Israeli organizations that support the world’s most vulnerable individuals in the developing world. 

Some partners are actively involved in aiding those hardest hit by COVID-19 and in promoting basic hygiene to prevent its spread in developing countries. 

Others have made difficult decisions to recall and cancel volunteer cohorts and/or curtail staff travel in an attempt to safeguard both the communities they serve and their own personnel. For our partners, international travel is more than just a part of their work. It’s the essence of their work. 

At OLAM, we have postponed our own in-person convenings and are exploring new ways to connect our partners to each other and to amplify their work in the global Jewish community under the current circumstances.

COVID-19 poses an especially significant threat to vulnerable people in developing countries. Without adequate access to healthcare or systems to stop the spread of a pandemic, people in the poorest communities could be hit very hard by this global health crisis. Now is the time to help these communities leverage their own remarkable creativity, innovation, and resilience to meet this unprecedented challenge.    

Moments like this make it clear that life is infinitely valuable and our world is deeply interconnected. As we engage in “social distancing” and our attention is understandably pulled towards hyperlocal concerns, we encourage you to commit to one action – however small – that demonstrates compassion and responsibility towards our interdependent world.    

Here is a list of OLAM partners preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the developing world as well as concrete ways you can learn about and support those in the Jewish community serving the world’s most vulnerable year-round.

OLAM Partner Organizations Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Developing World 

Note: This list will be continually updated as more information becomes available during this quickly changing situation. If you’d like to be added, please email us at [email protected] 

  • American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has launched a campaign to help their grantees respond to COVID-19, fight misinformation with truth, and protect the human rights of those most vulnerable to this pandemic.
  • Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) has launched a campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Kalwa slum in Mumbai, where 200,000 people are crammed into small huts and where GPM operates the only health clinic.   
  • HIAS is working with healthcare providers and host governments in the 16 countries in which it operates to ensure refugees and asylum seekers have access to information about COVID-19 and life-saving medical care, including: partnering with local supermarkets to help asylum seekers buy food; offering emergency rent payment, food and medicine to those most urgently in need; advocating against dangerous living conditions for asylum seekers in overcrowded camps; and providing phone- and zoom-based mental health services.
  • IsraAID has created specific hygiene promotion and health education programs to address COVID-19 in each of its 14 active missions worldwide – e.g., it transformed its in-person services for refugees in Greece into e-learning opportunities.  In addition, IsraAID piloted stress management webinars for front-line health workers in China and is currently expanding this model to other countries, and sent two shipments of protective medical gear to Chinese hospitals.
  • JDC GRID is working together with Mindset-PCS to develop a COVID-19 mitigation and response program in Ethiopia, including promoting WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), with the aim of replicating the model in other countries where they are currently active.
  • Mindset-PCS launched a community-led initiative in Israel to support refugee and asylum seeker families facing the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods and well-being.
  • NALA Foundation is doubling down on its year-round educational work promoting WASH in areas of Ethiopia that lack access to soap and basic hand-washing facilities. 
  • World Jewish Relief is working with their partners in 15 countries to identify ways they can ramp up their activities to support those most at risk.

Ways to Take Action 

Read and listen


  • During this time of uncertainty, help alleviate our partner organizations’ concerns about raising funds, making payroll, and meeting commitments to the communities they serve by supporting their work financially.

Volunteer online

  • Although global immersive service programs are currently on hiatus, it’s still possible to volunteer online. Register with Israeli-founded social impact business GivingWay to volunteer remotely – writing grant proposals, doing research, etc. – with local vetted NGOs in developing countries.  

Mark Passover

  • Download the HIAS Haggadah to include a deeper exploration of the global refugee crisis in your Seder this year and remember the 70 million displaced people around the world who are made that much more vulnerable in this moment.


  • Call upon governments and institutions to step up their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 using this list curated by Global Citizen,   
  • Raise your voice on other issues impacting the lives of vulnerable people in the developing world. Act on these opportunities offered by OLAM partners AJWS and HIAS.