, 26 April, 2020 / 5:16 PM
In the West Africa nation of Nigeria, an Archbishop has engaged in the distribution of palliatives to needy members of society and termed the initiative a “social responsibility of the Archdiocese.”
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja initiated the distribution of food and locally made facemasks Saturday, April 25 and challenged other entities in Africa’s most populous nation to help “cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.”
“This is the social responsibility of the archdiocese, the food and all that goes with it, the face masks as you can see we made quite a number of hundreds, we made them locally and we are hoping that this will inspire other individuals and groups to do the same,” Archbishop Kaigama told journalists April 25 in Abuja when he was initiating the first phase of the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives.
He added in reference to the first phase of the initiative that targets the vulnerable in society due to COVID-19 restrictions, “It will inspire governments at the local, state, and federal level to say look it is not too expensive to give this to every Nigerian citizen if it means stopping coronavirus.”
He expressed the hope that the items distributed will improve the livelihoods of the beneficiaries saying, “We are in difficult times, and we hope that the palliatives would go a long way to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and relieve the hardship and suffering of the people.”
At least 222 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Nigeria from the 1,182 reported cases; 35 have died from the pandemic.
On April 13, the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced a 14-day extension of the earlier three-State lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun in an effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
The extension of the lockdown has brought suffering and hardship to millions of Nigerians living from hand-to-mouth, often on less than one dollar a day, according to a report.
During the Saturday, April 25 event, the Nigerian Prelate said the cash donations of food items by selfless faithful from the archdiocese, would be used to “support rural parishes, prisons, and orphanage homes during the lockdown.”
The 61-year old Prelate also urged philanthropists and organizations to intensify efforts in reaching out to the poor around them during these trying times.
“We call on other organizations to also intensify efforts in reaching out at this critical moment when we are all called to be brothers and sisters of one another,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja said and added, “this is our direct appeal, this is not about north or south, not about Christian or Muslim, men or women, it’s all about humanity, so let’s do the best we can from the depth of our hearts, be charitable in reaching out to people.”
Archbishop Kaigama, who is also the Apostolic Administrator of Jos, has expressed optimism that the government would support the church’s effort in alleviating the challenges faced by the vulnerable and less privileged citizens.
“What we are giving out today was donated by the people of God in the Church and not from the government,” the Prelate said and added, “we are still optimistic that government will reach out with some relief, as we have not received anything from the government.”
Commenting on the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Archbishop of Abuja noted that the world was “fighting a war but a very different kind of war and it’s no deceit, it is very real and it will cripple us in many ways.”
“Let no one deceive himself or herself, Coronavirus is real and is a threat to humanity and everything we stand for,” he added.
“You can see how our social lives are crumbling; the economy is degenerating, and religious gatherings are now impossible. There are going to be consequences, so we must all be part of this war,” he said referencing the impact of the pandemic on society.
“We must understand it and protect ourselves, let us move forward with faith, trust, hope, and confidence that we can overcome COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Catholic Women Organization Abuja Archdiocese (CWOAA), Mrs. Mary Imaezue said the association would raise 4 million Naira (USD) to assist the less privileged and vulnerable members of the organization.
“The association felt the pains of her members and wished to offer some palliative measures to help the indigent members, especially in Parishes in more vulnerable areas because of their peculiarities,” Mrs. Imaezue said.
She said the organization would contribute the sum of 500,000 naira (USD 1,282) to the archdiocesan project and appealed to Catholic faithful, spirited individuals and parishes which were yet to assist their needy members to support the project.
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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.
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