, 21 April, 2020 / 2:25 AM
Different Catholic Groups in Ghana have heeded to the appeal by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) for financial assistance in its nine-month National Emergency Response Plan to combat COVID-19 by donating towards the purchase of hospital equipment and food for the needy in the West African country.
On March 27, Bishops in Ghana launched a special appeal through a letter signed by Fr. Lazarus Anondee, the Secretary General of the Accra-based National Catholic Secretariat (NCS) to all Catholic organizations, businesses and the faithful to assist in the efforts to fight against COVID-19 pandemic in their country.
The appeal was also geared towards supporting the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies to support the 46 Hospitals and the 83 Clinics run by the Church under the National Catholic Health Service in the fight against the pandemic as well as support the poor and vulnerable within the Church during this difficult time.
The groups, the Noble Order of the Knights and Ladies of Marshall as well as the Ancient Order of Knights of St. John International (KSJI) and their Ladies Auxiliary, at separate ceremonies at NCS, presented cheques amounting to GHc130,000 ($26,000) to support the Bishops’ COVID-19 Fund.
The Knights and Ladies of Marshall presented a cheque for GHc100, 000 ($20,000) on April 15 while the Knights of St. John presented a cheque for GHc30, 000 ($6,000) on April 17 to the Church hierarchy to procure PPEs for frontline health workers and also to provide relief items to the poor and vulnerable population.
Meanwhile, a Ghanaian Prelate has called on Ghanaians to look into supporting each other as all countries suffer the burden of fighting COVID-19.
Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie of Accra called on Catholic organizations and individuals to contribute their widow’s mite towards the fight against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has affected the whole world and every country is fighting to survive it, so it will be difficult for Ghana to turn to other countries for help,” said Archbishop Kwofie.
“We must look inward to see how to contain it with local resources and collaboration,” he stated, indicating that although the Catholic Church had already contributed significantly to the fight against the pandemic, “it would not rest until the disease had been dealt with.”
He said the Accra Archdiocese alone had already spent almost GHc111,000 ($22,200) on the procurement of PPEs and support to vulnerable groups.
Since the launch of the Bishops’ appeal, Caritas Ghana has supported and collaborated with Caritas Accra Archdiocese, Caritas Cape Coast Archdiocese and Caritas Office of Kumasi Archdiocese, through their Street Children Project (SCP), to provide basic needs to the poor in the areas affected by Government’s imposed restrictions, especially lockdown in Accra, Kasoa and Kumasi respectively.
According to an update made available to ACI Africa by Caritas Ghana on Saturday, April 18, 11,780 poor people in the areas affected by Ghana Government’s imposition of restrictions, especially the lockdown areas have been reached by Caritas Ghana.
The updates from the three Archdioceses under lockdown on their Basic Needs Support to the poor, in collaboration with Caritas Ghana indicate that with general outreach service, Kumasi has reached 300 people, Accra 7,500 and Kasoa in the Cape Coast Archdiocese, 3,000. The people have been provided with shelter and food from the start of the lockdown.
Other societies and groups at the Diocesan level have also started supporting their Bishops to assist the needy, poor and vulnerable Catholics and non-Catholics alike in the midst of COVID-19.
Caritas Cape Coast in collaboration with Caritas Ghana also donated food items, detergents and about 500 pieces of facemasks to assist the vulnerable people in Kasoa, a town under the Cape Coast Archdiocese but part of the lockdown area under Greater Accra.
In a report from the Marshallan Communications Team made available to ACI Africa on the presentation to the GCBC on April 15, Charles Cobb, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Marshall, said the donation is an act of the many charitable support that the Noble Order continues to extend to the Church and humanity.
“We are all committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 so that our country can quickly return to normalcy and for us to resume our participation in our usual daily and Sunday Masses,” he said.
He added, “As Christians and soldiers of the Church, it is our duty to be part of the solution and defend the Church, which is the people of God.”
The Vice President of the GCBC, Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, who represented the Conference appealed to Ghanaians “to stay positive and adhere strictly to the measures put in place by the government to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).”
He noted that while Ghanaians adhere to the lockdown measures, “it is important for the media to project the good things they do to help the country at this critical time.”
“In reporting on COVID-19, we should focus more on the people on the frontline who are making sacrifices of their lives to save other people. Let us highlight the positive work of these heroes and heroines,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said.
He added, “If we have about 1.9 million COVID-19 infections across the world and only a small percentage of them are dying, we should be telling the inspiring stories of those who are surviving it and let people know that if you get the virus, it is not a death sentence.”
Archbishop Kwofie, who received the donation on behalf of the Ghanaian Bishops, thanked KSJI for responding generously to their appeal, adding that that “their great gesture shows their sense of brotherhood and the fact that they believe in co-responsibility towards the common good.
He also called on the members of the group to intensify their prayers for God's intervention in the COVID-19 eradication and advised against the stigmatization of people confirmed to be positive and those undergoing quarantine.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa