Life suddenly came to a standstill Read more
From Sister Ndidi, in Ireland
From every corner of the house one could hear the ticking of the clock. Great silence engulfed the whole world. The kind of silence of Holy Saturday experience, as we read: ‘What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence and stillness, because the King sleeps’. In the deep silence, we discover new ways of living. We are inspired to read more books, pray more intensely, embark on deeper reflection, and connect in solidarity with one another in new ways different from how we did before. It is an invitation to go into the Upper Room, to grow inwards, and to deepen one’s faith. This will strengthen, propel and empower us when the storm is over. It has become a moment of grace!
But In Nairobi, Kenya, Sister Oluchi laments that with the shut-down of churches the children preparing for baptism will not receive the sacrament. “They have prepared so well, they are all ready, they long to receive the grace,” she cries.
In Philadelphia, Sister Florence, chaplain to the Africa Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is working from home. “With the restrictions, many parents are no longer working. Food is being rationed as days pass by. Children eat more when they’re at home 24/7. And when food is rationed in a family of five kids or more, I leave you to draw the conclusion.
“ While I live comfortably with five Sisters in the community, I’m very much aware that many from the African Catholic Community do not share the same experience. With Sr. Gertrude, Director for Office of Pastoral Care for Migrants & Refugees (PCMR), we started organizing packaged food donations and pick-ups for the PCMR Communities. From my home office in the basement, I am able to organize and call different families, ten or twelve of them, to pick up their food packages on either Mondays or Fridays at a local parish.
For community outreach, I have set up a ZOOM Meeting Room, where some African Catholics gather to pray the Rosary on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is also a forum where we share what’s happening in our lives and in the lives of our families.”
Food is a problem in many regions
Acknowledging the power of God ,says Sister Elizabeth, who supports us through people of goodwill in our efforts to bring the Good news to the poor, we heartily appreciate all our benefactors. It’s really amazing to see and experience the joy of sharing, especially during this period of pandemic, how touching it is for the very poor who ordinarily go out on a daily basis to look for jobs so as to earn a living, but cannot at this time care for themselves and their families. According to Mother Teresa, a drop in an ocean makes a lot of difference, for without that drop, the ocean would be missing something. With the loving and generous support of some of our benefactors, we’ve been able to reach out and support some poor people by providing food items and other basic necessities during this difficult time.
In Ethiopia, where in private schools the parents are expected to continue to pay school fees to cover the teachers’ salaries while the schools are on lockdown – many of these parents are more likely to come to ask for help for their daily bread and we do what we can to help. In Wonji clinic masks and handwashing are introduced, while in Addis, Sister Celly is busy making masks and distributing them to people in the poorer quarters of the town where she is well known.
Sister Secunda with community leaders in Sierra Leone: Wearing of masks needs encouragement as does social distancing, as many people would prefer to believe the virus is not real and are reluctant to take precautions.
In Ghana, as well as masks and hand washing, that else did the sisters do? Well, let us go to Donkorkrom where we have Sisters Joy, Linda and Anne. No schools, so the temptation is to think nothing is happening! During this lock down time our new primary school has been built, a borehole dug, a farm with mangoes and groundnuts etc has been put in place. As well as supervision of workers, you can imagine the amount of travelling that has had to happen to bring all that about. It involved trips to Kumasi and Accra, each a day’s journey away, for building materials and school books etc. In Holy
In Holy Rosary Health Centre, Amankwakrom , Rose and Nkechi are busy, as usual attending to patients, providing Maternity services, Nutrition Training, a Feeding programmme for the elderly and a Child Welfare programme.
It is also during this time that the Health Centre put up a new facility, funded by Manos Unidas The facility contains a Pharmacy, Lab. Ultra sound, Injection room and Male ward.
Liberia The water fountain: A great way to be able to wash hands while using a very small amount of water! Sister Ann and colleague Mr James Korhene demonstrate: you see the narrow pipe? That is the whole fountain. The little water it contains is enough to wash several pairs of hands and keep the virus away! Contact Liberia for more information.
New realities bring new skills. Student Sisters continue their studies online. School sisters assist parents in teaching their children at home.
There is more time to take care of the farm, and to come closer to the earth. And a new enthusiasm for keeping fit, for the young folk, and even the elders! BUT:
“They have no vaccine,” laments Sister Eileen, echoing the cry of Our Lady to her Son at Cana, “They have no wine.”
Eileen, who has worked in health care in Africa all her life has arranged a rota in the convent in Ireland for the sisters to offer special prayers for the discovery of a safe vaccine.
We continue to pray to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, for the millions of people round the world who are affected by the virus and it effects, and for health-care workers, scientists, leaders, that God may continue to walk with us on this perilous journey.