Living in Times of Covid-19: Experiences of Catholic (Christian) Lay Across Africa
Since first being recorded late last year in China, the Covid-19 coronavirus has spread around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a global pandemic.
Up to until mid-February, Europe had become the worst-affected region, with Italy and Spain particularly most affected. Currently, the pandemic has spread around the world and developing countries, including those in Sub-Sahara Africa have not been spared. Currently, over a million people have been infected. As at 3rd March, WHO estimated that Covid-19 had a 3.4 % mortality rate having caused a loss of life of close to 60,000 people and recovery of slightly 250,000 people around the world. In Africa, South Africa, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya are among countries with high recorded infections.
The epidemic is causing untold suffering to human life. The coronavirus pandemic demands social distancing, quarantine and isolation. It has send billions of people into lockdown as health services struggle to cope. Many workers are now reduced to working from home. Schools, around the world, have been closed and teachers have found themselves managing virtual classrooms, communicating with their students over social media platforms. Majority of churches around the world have suspended their Sunday services and worshippers now find themselves following online services. No one knows what will happen next. The requirement to social distance, quarantine and isolate has resulted to loneliness epidemic. Majority of individuals today lack
sufficient social connection and such conditions can augment the negative effects of stress and reduce physical and emotional resilience that people will need to fight the COVID-19. As a result, relational connection is important at this moment of COVID-19 pandemic.
Pax Romana ICMICA-Africa Organises a Live Discussion on COVID-19
It is in this view that Pax Romana ICMICA-Africa plans to hold an on-line session bringing together Catholic professionals across Africa and beyond to share their hopes and experiences about the COVID-19. With members drawn from difference countries, divergent professional orientation and experiences, the on-line session will bring together members to reflect on how Catholic (Christian) Lay Across Africa are living through the difficult times of Covid-19.
The International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA-Pax Romana) is a global community of Catholic intellectuals and professionals engaged in the world with a spirituality of action. Inspired by the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition, we live our faith by engaging the challenges of our times. As a movement, we are committed to the option for the poor, integral human development, interreligious dialogue, and the empowerment of women and young professionals. ICMICA brings together professionals, small communities and national movements to support one another across borders and to offer a voice in international forums, including the Vatican and the United Nations system.
In Africa, Pax Romana-ICMICA is present in close to 15 countries, mapped as the per the regional episcopal conferences. They include Eastern Africa sub-region comprising of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and South Sudan; West Africa sub-region comprising of Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ivory Coast; Southern Africa comprising of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Madagascar and; Central Africa that includes DRC and Cameroun. There are plans to launch the movement in countries like Central Africa republic and Congo Brazzaville.
Scope of the Discussion
Members reflected on the following among others issues;
a) What is the situation like, right now?
b) How has this epidemic affected you, your family, community and the country at large?
c) Given this is an epidemic that needs direct government intervention, what is the
government doing to avert the situation?
d) Obviously, given that government needs support, tell us an idea of how different
organizations in countries handing this epidemic, and more so the Church.
e) What are your hopes and challenges (fears) regarding the way this epidemic is being
handled and what sort of needs to be done to improve the situation? How do you see the
i) Is the frequency of testing adequate?
ii) Are the health systems adequate enough to respond to the crisis?
iii) Are measures considering the poor and marginalized
f) How can we, as Pax Romana family in Africa, support each other at this time of crises?
Are there practical suggestions?