EXPERIENCES OF PAX ROMANA AFRICA PROFESSIONALS DURING THE LOCKDOWN OF COVID 19
Since the confirmation of the presence of Corona virus in Kenya, it was apparent to me that we are soon headed for a quarantine. It became apparent that this was not a ‘Chinese’ disease. A few weeks ago, I was in touch with Raissa, a Congolese PhD student studying in China and a member of Pax Romana. I was worried for many friends around the world. But now corona virus is with us, a reminder of how we are a ‘connected people’ and that ‘an action of one person, in a tiny village somewhere, can have an impact on the whole of humanity’. I have kept indoors trying to catch up with work and connecting with others through skype, zoom and WebEx. A number of my planned projects have stalled. I am a researcher and my work involves fieldwork, travelling to collect data and speaking to people. Now I can no longer proceed with this. I am also used to catching up with friends for coffee in the evening and just having a talk. Now, I cannot do that anymore. That said, it has also been a moment for me to think about ‘my being’ and connect to my family, especially my children – Jude (7), Nadine (5) and Sophia (1.5). Every evening, we have made it a habit to reflect on the word of God. After the bible reading, which is done by both Jude and Nadine, in turns, we spare sometimes to reflect on it. I allow Jude and Nadine to also pray in turns and each of them ‘tells God to ensure Corona Virus is taken away and that all of their friends can be safe’.
Message: Let us keep faith!
Fredrick Wamalwa, Vice President for Africa-Pax Romana, Kenya
In Togo as everywhere in the world, the COVID-19 virus puts us in front of health challenges but also of political, social, economic and faith. For the researcher and social actor like myself, the main thing is how to deal with COVID-19 and not to argue about its origins since this virus kills thousands every day since it left China and has invaded the whole world with around 70,000 dead today. It knows no race, neither poor nor rich, neither beautiful nor ugly neither city dweller nor rural and thus creates desolation everywhere.
The Togolese government under the leadership of the Head of State has taken preventive and control measures, including barrier measures with partial containment, the quarantine of travelers from high-risk countries and the isolation of certain cities. (Lomé, Tsévié, Kpalimé and Sokodé) from March 20, 2020 where cases of patients with COVID-19 were identified and sent to specific health centers. These measures were reinforced following the speech of the Head of State on April 1, 2020 with a curfew for the great Lomé.
I made a commitment to protect myself and others, including my family, and for my work at university, I do it much more remotely since my home confinement. At the level of several national and international platforms, in particular “Colloquium-Exchanges and Research” for Universities and “Superior Council of Civil Society of Togo -CSSC” as well as the “African Union of Development NGOs – UAOD” for organizations of civil society, of which I am an active member, we are leading debates on the effectiveness of measures against COVID-19 and are making press releases with community awareness-raising actions. At the level of my commune of Vakpossito (Agoè-Nyivé 3) in the great Lomé, we organized under the impulse of the mayor, groups of volunteers for daily sensitizations. For Pax Romana Togo, MIIC and MIEC got together to set up an awareness spot against COVID-19. For my family, since the churches are closed, we live the domestic church with masses of which our two big daughters make the choir and the readings, the two smallest are the choirboys, my wife animates the prayers and I coordinate all by reading the gospel and commenting on the readings.
The COVID-19 does not move but it is we human being who make it move from one place to another. To face the challenges of the day, everyone must contribute to the common edifice, that of blocking the road to this evil of which several questions arise about its origin. We must adopt barrier gestures for fear of sinking all since we are on the same ship of which the one who holds the rudder is the COVID-19. So let’s cut the chain of spread and contamination with COVID-19 by respecting the control measures and limiting our movements as much as possible or, failing that, let’s observe social distancing once we are outside. COVID-19 is a reality no matter where it comes from. Life seems to stop and fear spreads to the world. Let us do our share of human beings with our weaknesses by raising hope with our brothers and sisters and God will take care of the rest because our Father is merciful and never remains deaf to the sincere cries of his children !!!
Dr Jules Yaovi WAHARE, SG ICMICA Pax Romana Africa
As the lockdown has not yet been decreed, I really go out when I have to. Sometimes to go to the cabinet since I’m liberal, or for essential classes. I respect the hygiene regulations, the distance to be respected etc. And I stay at home when, I have nothing to do outside.
I work a lot from home, the lockdown is not decreed by the authorities at the moment. The administration runs while respecting the instructions issued by the State and the health structures. As far as we are concerned, here at the firm (I am the manager of an accounting and business. consultancy firm), we respect the hygiene. Obviously, masks, hydro-alcoholic gels, soaps have been acquired and we are raising awareness of the good reflexes to adopt and follow government instructions.
Message: Facing this situation, we must keep the Hope that this moment will pass. Let us do our part by respecting the measures and by speaking to our neighbors, our families on the protection instructions etc … Let us remain positive and do not be AFRAID. This time will pass.
Yves KOUMASSI de Togo
The health crisis in our planet leaves no country indifferent. From North to South, from East to West, states barricade themselves and confine their populations as preventive measures, thus disrupting the way of life of citizens. Like other infected nations, the Ivorian and ecclesiastical authorities have also taken steps to protect populations. These measures, which are difficult to observe because of social ties, really influence the daily experience of populations who find it difficult to inculturate them. To therefore ensure his own safety and that of others, in the face of contamination, it is necessary and even imperative to observe the health instructions which are repeated on all television channels and on the radio. All these provisions can be observed at home as well as at work. Consciously and responsibly we ensure our safety, with regard to the prescribed measures. In Côte d’Ivoire, the lock-down is not yet general. Only a reorganization of the working time which went from 8 hours of work to 6 hours, and measures of restriction in the displacement. For example, no movement from the capital to other region in the country is allowed and vice versa. As a result, we manage our time positively. No more strolls for no reason, no more inconvenient visits, no more meetings with friends. We now maintain relationships via the telephone. We dedicate ourselves more to prayer and meditation. Every day strong words to meditate and prayers are shared in the Whatsapp group of the movement, and we follow the Eucharistic celebrations and the teachings on television, to always remain connected to our God. The positive thing in this case is the reunification of families. We spend enough time with our children, and very often we play comedy to amuse the gallery and kill the anxiety. Covid-19 showed us the fragility of the “hypersonic” system of humans. No system is spared. No nation, weak or strong, they are equal. Only God is strong and eternal. In this situation, we must turn to Him, the Master of medicine and time. May this auspicious period of our existence bring us back to our God. And whatever you live, everything comes to an end. This disease will pass and we will live. God save us !!!
Léon Loukou de la Cote d’Ivoire
For Gabon, the measures taken by the government there are: prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people; the closure of the air, land and sea borders to people; – reduction of working hours in public and private administration;
In terms of medical care, it is completely free; a curfew is put in place from 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. throughout the national territory; There is also a special number in case of doubt about his health.
For my spare time, I spend it with my children … I take the opportunity to play with them, there is also reading and prayer.
Message: it makes you stay positive, even if socially isolation and confinement are difficult to accept in Africa but it is for our good. Here it is not total but we feel a lot of sadness and incomprehension in some. Prayer, we must pray to keep the faith.
ÉMANE Idris Roméo, MCC Gabon
The security measure taken by our government is the closing of the airport and rail land borders of our country. The suspension of interurban transport of people, the closure of markets, churches and mosques, restaurants, places of drinks that gather more than 50 people. So all the cities are in quarantine until further notice. Measures will be taken by the ministers for the civil service in the coming days to ensure the least number of people in contact in the services. There has also been a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
For my part I am in lock-down and I telecommute when possible. Advertising campaigns are carried out at all times on TV radio and on signs on what to do to avoid contracting Covid 19. For my part, I follow the news a lot and I also work. What my husband does too.
Message: We wish all those who are currently infected by the covid 19 a lot of courage and may the hand of the Lord our God be placed on them … To those who are not infected to follow the instructions from the doctors very scrupulously, and protect themselves. Finally, wish the courage to the whole world and let us remain in prayers and remain at home to avoid the spread of the disease. As a commercial says THE VIRUS DOESN’T WALK, IT IS US WHO MAKE IT MOVE, THEN REMAIN IF POSSIBLE AT HOME … May God pour his merciful gaze on us poor humans and keep us away from this virus forever. ..
Martine Badoré yougbaré, Burkina Faso
As of now our people seem to be carrying on their activities as usual although the government has put in place some measures to mitigate what has befallen the world. Schools, colleges, unis, bars, restaurants, gyms and three international airports have been closed until further notice. People are being sensitized in all media on the COVID 19 pandemic and the protocols to follow in order to avoid contracting it.
I therefore made a decision to STAY AT HOME and self isolate, I have sent my part-time Maid on leave giving me a lot of work to do around the house, and also ensuring I disinfect and sanitize my surroundings the way I want. I have driven out 3 times in the past 2 weeks: to attend early morning masses and to stock up on groceries etc. Come Monday 30th March, all weekday and Sunday Masses have been suspended till further notice – the churches will be closed too! Ok, the country has “recorded” 16 cases only but we know they have not captured everyone who is infected. And with many pouras boarders surrounding this country it’s very difficult to capture the infections coming in through these pouras boarders. It was imperative therefore for me to take personal responsibility of my health, being in the risk age group, one cannot take chances and play roulette with one’s life. And if staying at home, regular hand washing and sanitizing coupled with social distancing will reduce this risk, then my pattern of life has to seriously change.
On the other hand, however, the silence and loneliness of my home has provided me with an opportunity to improve my reading culture, I am doing more reading of books and magazines, some of which I bought maybe at airports and never got to finish reading them. I have also come to appreciate the use of social media and different communication platforms, in particular mobile smart phones. I keep in touch with all my friends and family, especially my children and grandchildren on the mobile phone, we video chat, share ideas and just find out how they are all doing since I can’t visit them physically. I have also done many reflections and accompanied our spiritual shepherds thru the online prayers and live masses. Just yesterday, I was sharing with the Catholic WhatsApp groups I belong to guiding prayers and outline of Spiritual Holy Communion, which was posted on the Pax Romana group. No dull moment or loneliness, there is a lot of creative things one can do in the confines of ones home – we just need to stay at home to beat this “thing”. Maria do you know that even old friendships can be rekindled? Perusing through my contact list I discovered some friends I had not talked to in years! It was such a good feeling to reconnect with them and so fulfilling for me that I made the first move to call after such a deafening silence between us.
For the sisters and brothers out there who are scared of this thing and envision total loneliness during the lockdown, I can assure you there is no need to get scared just get yourself busy and entertained the best way possible: read, dance, cook, exercise, meditate, sing, enjoy the moment and above all -Pray! you will stay safe and healthy by staying at home. After all this virus can’t come to you if you don’t go out to get it, no?
Talking of entertainment, one of the light moments for me was when oldest granddaughter sent me my favorite Zambian music at 23:30hrs last night, knowing I would get up from my couch and dance to it! For sure I danced to it untill midnight, we video chatted and laughed till the wee hours of this morning! She made my evening!!!! So, yah the lockdown is not gonna break me, that’s the stand I have personally taken: unless I allow it to. If we all go down on our knees and pray for God’s mercy through the intercession of our Mother Mary, we are winners already! God has gotten us covered.
May those afflicted with this thing get healed and may God Almighty touch them with His healing hand, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Anastasia Mhango from Zambia
The Lock down is real. My family (wife and children) are in three different countries right now. But we are staying safe. The young ones are with the grandparents. Their grand dad is enforcing the social distancing and hygiene in the home and is having them take a dose of herbals he has always been fond of. “Pray for us but don’t be too worried we will overcome this. I have been getting a few herbs here and there to boost the immunity of my grand children” the old man said. Their grandmum secured packets of Vitamin C tabs and they are taking daily. I too working from home are on Vitamin C, handwshing every time I get out of the house.
I am not the standard of what has to be done but there seems to be a viable response to this situation.
Stay at home indeed and make the best of it. Slowing down is good thing. It is healing too. If you are gifted with the ability of meditate and contemplate, this is the time to do it. Prayer in its most essential form is the highest form of leisure for it is solely human and consists in the contemplation of the Supreme good.
We could cut down on expenses but we cannot cut down on the immune boosting foods. We need to prepare the body to take on any attack.
Message: There are lots of debate on social media about the sources of the virus. These debates will only serve a purpose if they are contributing to a collective disinterested solution to the pandemic. It does not help to win debates for the sake of it. Actually, for those have neither stomach for it or are not edified by the debates keep off social media and spend more time interacting with the real people in front of you.
Stay safe friends… I am still Hopeful Africa will still be protected by the Almighty God who knows so well that we are the weakest in this situation.
Richard Kekeeto, Uganda
For the past two months we have been in strict quarantine, no one leaves the campus and the University takes care of our food every day. I have online sessions with my lecturer on the project I need to publish in order to obtain my doctorate in economics. So the best I can do is to work on my project because when it all ends things will go really fast.
Message: Just to keep hoping to believe in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Golgotha because the bible declares that it is by these bruises that we are healed and also when fear invades them that he can read Psalm 91. This is what I can say.
Nimy ta Nimy Raïssa de la DRC qui vit en Chine
I left Tangaza in 2017 for Spain. Yes. it is a hard time here… Because we start like in Kenya, only 1 case for a long time… but then, this virus spreads like fire… and in 10 days we reached 10,000… now we are 135,032 cases, increasing more than 8,000 cases per day…
And all was because we did not remain at home from the beginning, so please, do not go out, try to have no contact with people…. because that was our mistake!!!!!
Then it spreads very fast and it is really aggressive… even if we have one of the best Health Systems of the world!!!!
I pray also for Kenya and for the beloved people I have there!!!!!!!!
Keep in touch!!!!!
Sr. Pillar, Salesians, Barcelona
First have ensure my family, family of four people are all aware of Government Directives on prevention measures. Have ensure any time someone get out to get something could fetching water, going to the toilet, getting supper are always wash their hands and sanitize themselves before they get into the house. Have ensured we maintained high level of hygiene. My son who is youngest member is hard to contain him without creating a lot of trouble since he doesn’t understand why we are in the house 24-7. Rest we keep ourselves busy by reading books doing assignment and preparing for any online courses. Have tried to ensure we have almost every basic commodity but this very expensive. At individual level am doing a lot in terms of engaging virtual Community on health information especially on any measures to combating Covid-19 disease. Secondly due to my leadership role in the church and community keep on engaging them on how best we can try to do our daily activities to mitigate the effect of Covid-19. As member of YALI network took some online courses on how best to keep my community or society safe at this Community. Effective Health Communication skills that illustrate on need to share verifiable, reliable and actionable information that influence decision on healthy nature, the person sharing should be aware of what they are talking about, understand the audience demography. My lovely wife try to do house chores, read and interact with her students.
Message to my brothers and Sisters wherever they are in any parts of the world, Covid-19 present a perfect situation to exercise and practice our innovative and creative skills, cultivate our humane act of doing everything right to prioritize our lives, our families and Countries. It is amplifying the need of thinking Globally as we act Locally. Our daily action should positively contribute towards flattening the Covid-19 growth curve, positively combat Covid-19 pandemic, Let cooperate and take directive from Government, any volunteering program or wishes should be channel in the right way as we ensure we are part of solutions and not problem. Let continue doing right thing and Pray to God to forgive our sins, bless and protect all the Frontline soldiers in combating this pandemic. Thank you all.
David Tuitoek, Kenya
New lesson from the coronavirus ?
As if we did not have a second to lose: internal and external mission, night work, weekends, holidays, even on Sundays. One wonders “accelerate to where?” “
“I don’t have time” is the catchword.
Join a movement: I don’t have time.
Meet, participate in a recollection or a retreat: I don’t have time.
Go see the dentist: I don’t have time …
But all of a sudden, a stick appeared on the wheel: stop!
A “little” beast, a tiny virus dictates its law on us. And the whole world is turned upside down. From East to West, from North to South. No one is immune. Everyone is trembling. Poor country or rich country, without exception.
Knowing how to live are no longer viewed on shaking hands, or hugging. Visiting parents is no longer a courtesy. Going to the office is prohibited! “Keep your distance” is the new motto.
The most popular tourist spots are closed; mosques, temples and churches are empty.
As if the earth stops spinning. Several countries no longer have the time to mourn their deaths, which are increasing hour by hour. Hospitals and even other places are turned into a mortuary. It’s a hard test for the leaders, a pain for the people.
For us executives, this confinement is an opportunity to recharge our batteries: reading. But also to give ourselves for others. Everything is linked, says Pope Francis. We are interdependent, citizens of the same and only world.
It is also an opportunity to have fun: gardening, playing with the children, making small repairs …
Above all, even if the church is closed, it is an opportunity to draw near to God. Pray for these doctors and caregivers, drivers … who, always overwhelmed, give their lives for others on the battlefield.
If we are used to waiting: “Sunday Assembly in the Absence of a Priest (ADAP)”, another expression must be coined: “Easter celebration in the absence of people”. This Easter time will be celebrated in a very special way this time in several countries.
If God still gives us time to meditate on the event in this Holy Week, let’s take advantage of it. Let us take this opportunity to pray, to implore his mercy because He alone is our salvation. Let’s do everything that comes under our responsibility to limit the proliferation of the coronavirus pandemic, but let us not forget this historic declaration by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “We have lost control, we cannot understand what we can do more . All solutions are exhausted in the field. Our only hope remains in Heaven. God save your people ”!
Rahasa Joseph, MCCP Madagascar
To ensure my safety and those of my family amidst of the pandemic, I do the following:
- Getting the right information about COVID 19. There is a lot of fake, alarmist and negative communication going around.
- Practising social distancing by avoiding gatherings , not attending Church functions including mass physically
- Practising hygienic and good lifestyle through cleaning of hands with alcohol based hand sanitisers , balanced diet which is more organic , fruits rich in vitamins , exercise daily for myself and family
- Praying together as a family to bring hope and calm fears
- Collaborating with other professionals in fundraising for our Catholic health institutions
To fill my days during the lock-down, I do:
- Reading scripture and prayer
- Work – apparently my sector is classified as essential services. I offer support to health and humanitarian assistance personnel
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily
- Research and writing
- Coordinating fellow professionals in our various interventions
Message: COVID 19 has exposed human frailty but in the same vein it has shown that we need each other more. This pandemic needs the cooperation of all. It will come to pass , God loves us. It is a time of introspection , discernment , reconnection and engaging in prayer. We will come out of this the better
Albert Dhafana, Zimbabwe