The COVID 19 pandemic has affected most of the countries in the world, including the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Sr. Teresa Mulenga is a Teresian Sister and ASEC Programs Coordinator in Malawi. She recently wrote a successful grant proposal to supply sanitation materials to 5 HIV/AIDS support groups in the Dedza District in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sr. Teresa is also an alumna of ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, where she learned valuable grant writing, technology, administration and finance skills to help her be more effective in her ministry to the poor.
Individuals with a chronic illness (like those affected by HIV/AIDS) have a low immune system and are prone to contracting any diseases including COVID-19. Those who are vulnerable need special care during these challenging times.
Sr. Teresa says,
"... I managed to supply tap buckets for keeping water for washing hands, bar soaps and hand wash to members of 5 support groups, reaching a total 125 households."
In Nigeria, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) are feeding the poor in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sr. Veronica Fatoyinbo, SNDdeN, ASEC Nigeria Program Director, writes,
"It is a good thinking to impose lock down to safe the lives of the citizens from being infected by this virus. However, there is hunger in the city and the Nigeria government have no plan how to feed people who are lock down indefinitely. It is difficult to stay indoor when one’s stomach is empty."
So, in the spirit of solidarity and love, the Notre Dame sisters shared what little resources they have with the poor in their community. The poor were very close to the heart of Jesus as well as the foundress of their congregation, St. Julie Billiar.
In Lesotho, young boys (under 14) receive masks and attend a workshop facilitated by SLDI alumna Sr. Theresia Noko and the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa (SCO).
In this video Sr. Theresia thanks a generous American donor for the funds she received to buy materials to make masks for the vulnerable and others in the community. The donor also gave her so extra money to purchase food for the hungry. She says,
"I managed this because of the good skills I got from ASEC programme... I am able to express the situation that people are going through and people do understand."
During the workshop, the boys learned proper sanitation and other techniques to prevent contracting COVID-19. She also taught them how to care for the elderly. The boys helped the sisters clean out the garden beds at the Elizabeth Bruyere Old Age Home where Sr. Theresia serves. Now the elderly will be able to grow vegetables there.
"I am so happy to see the progress after being a part in ASEC program. I am seeing myself being involved in many activities of which I managed through the skills I learned from ASEC," she says.
The SCO sisters also plan to donate balls, nets and first aid kits to the boys for giving a hand to the elderly.
In Nairobi, SLDI alumna Sr. Gisele Ndekezi and the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco (SDB) are doing everything they can to express hope and faith amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She says,
"Here in Kenya, the situation is not so good, but we are hopeful and we are also doing many activities to encourage the people in our various missions. ...As Religious, we felt that we could also do our part together in order to give a message of hope to our people, to the young people, to the children and to the families."
With funds acquired from the Development and Bursar offices, sisters were able to:
- Purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety goggles, surgical aprons, surgical masks and surgical gloves for their medical staff.
- Provide masks, sanitizers, soap and food to vulnerable people in the community.
The sisters are also educating the medical staff and community about the spread of COVID-19:
- The medical staff have been educated about COVID-19 transmission, symptoms and prevention so they can properly attend to patients.
- Sisters are educating the community using posters, banners, fliers and even driving a van equipped with speakers to announce information to the community.
Sr. Gisele adds,
"...thanks once again for the opportunity offered to me to study Administration, this was a very good experience in my life. ...As a Provincial Superior, the impact of the SLDI programme is still strong in me especially to mentor and empower others to use their gifts for the good of the society. I feel very fulfilled when I mentor my Sisters and they do great experiences in their various missions. Mine is to keep on encouraging them, empower them with courses and give them responsibility that they will be able to exercise their gifts, talents and to improve."
Read more stories written by sisters in Africa that share how their congregations and communities are affected by the pandemic.