During COVID-19 lockdowns, SAT-7’s ability to resource and encourage viewers in their own homes became vital as on-the-ground organisations were forced to scale back. Nicoletta Michael, SAT-7’s Development Manager, shares how new partnerships have developed and how working together can maximise the impact of all.

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, the suffering it brought came on top of existing struggles in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region already had 15 million children out of school. Rates of domestic violence were already high. Across many aspects of life – the economy, health systems, job markets – the impact of COVID-19 was greater because the pre-existing structures were weaker.

At SAT-7, we adapted quickly, creating or repurposing many programs to address public health awareness, physical and mental wellbeing, spiritual support, and education. As I saw how resilient our staff were, how committed they were to meeting these needs, I was impressed. But after all, this is what SAT-7 has always done: we see the challenges in the MENA, and we respond. And because satellite can reach behind closed doors – because we always reach the isolated and out of reach – our model became something of a superpower. While even the most developed countries struggled with remote education, for example, SAT-7 was already equipped to offer this to the Arab World.

The power of partnership

For our Partners and other on-the-ground NGOs suddenly cut off from those they support, partnership with SAT-7 took on a whole new dimension. During COVID-19, we first collaborated with Right to Play Lebanon, an existing SAT-7 Partner that promotes children’s rights and education. The organisation’s play-based activities were halted during lockdown, and they needed to think outside the box. Together, we adapted some of these activities – such as educational games – for socially-distanced home use, and broadcast them, meaning SAT-7’s audiences could benefit along with Right to Play’s participants.

This experience led to the creation of two free COVID-19 response packages of SAT-7 material, offered for the use of organisations who usually work on the ground. These packages have received strong positive feedback from SAT-7 Partners, including those in the West who disseminated them to their other contacts in the MENA. As partners shared their appreciation for SAT-7’s timely, adaptable, and holistic material, we quickly saw that the packages were spreading on the ground and making a difference.

Meanwhile, the same material received a strong response from our own viewers – illustrating how partnering with local NGOs also offers great value for SAT-7. Although on-the-ground organisations work with smaller groups than SAT-7’s millions-strong audience, they are experts in their areas of focus. Working with these partners helps us learn about the impact of our programs and receive feedback that helps us grow.

SAT-7 continues to offer a platform for other NGOs active in the MENA to work with us. Within our partnerships, SAT-7 acts as a bridge – collaborating, not competing. As we continue to create responsive programs, I also aspire to see SAT-7 become a platform for more voices in the MENA, including those from NGOs with a similar vision and mission. When all of us work together, we are better equipped to address the great needs in the MENA – to truly make the most of the power of media to bring education, encouragement, and hope.

Packages available for partners

Please click here for more information on the packages of SAT-7 programming freely available for use by organisations working on the ground in the MENA.

The first package, designed for Arabic-speaking children, parents, caregivers, and teachers, offers educational resources including virtual lessons covering the primary curriculum, support from educational psychologists, and enrichment programs such as music education.

The second package is more holistic, covering 42 SAT-7 programs in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, divided into four categories: COVID-19 Awareness and Preventative Measures, Physical and Mental Wellbeing, Education, and Spiritual Support. The programs in this package are all incredibly useful resources that other organisations could use for their beneficiaries. They share public health information and dispel false information and fears. They address everything from domestic violence prevention to staying active and creative at home, and from home-schooling to promoting healthy family relationships at times of stress.

Please Pray

As many of us return to life after lockdown, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continues to deal with the social and economic fallout of the pandemic for a long time. Please pray for the people of the MENA and for God’s divine intervention, support, and comfort during these difficult times.

Nicoletta Michael

SAT-7 Development Manager | Nicoletta Michael’s experience is based on international relations and politics with a focus on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. She joined SAT-7 in 2015, where she works as a Development Manager responsible for the Project Planning, Project Execution, and Project Monitoring and Controlling, of SAT-7’s multi-million-dollar projects. Nicoletta is passionate for the Middle East and North Africa and aspires to see a Middle East and North Africa where people enjoy universally recognised rights, freedoms and liberties, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, religious or political beliefs.

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