, 30 April, 2020 / 3:39 AM
Catholic Bishops in the East African nation of Kenya are appealing for support to facilitate the realization of their collective initiative that seeks to assist those affected by COVID-19 pandemic, especially the most vulnerable, “including the 2.5 million people living in informal settlements.”
“The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) is appealing to all Christians, Partners and people of goodwill to support our emergency response initiatives to the COVID-19 pandemic in our Nation,” the Bishops appealed in their collective letter signed by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo.
In the letter, the Bishops explain that the emergency operation will provide at-risk population core relief items such as basic foodstuff, support to basic hygiene, hand washing and public health messaging.
According to the Bishops, an estimated 2.5 million population living in informal settlements will be hard hit by the pandemic, since the areas “are densely populated with inadequate household water and sanitation, little or no waste management, overcrowded public transport and limited access to formal health care facilities.”
Dated April 23 but only circulated on Wednesday, April 29, the three-page letter provides earlier statistics. Kenya has recorded at least 384 COVID-19 cases, 129 recoveries and 14 deaths.
The Bishops are welcoming support in the form of funds, food and non-food items “to support and save the lives of the affected population” across the 26 dioceses in the country.
“In-kind donations (dry food and non-food items) can be channeled through our Parishes, Diocesan and National offices and other Church Institutions,” the Bishops have stated and added, “After which all the contributions (financial and in-kind) will be collected at designated places in our Dioceses and Parishes, for distribution to the most affected people.”
They have mandated KCCB’s Catholic Health Commission of Kenya (CHCK), KCCB’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) and Caritas Kenya to coordinate the resource mobilization initiative.
The mobilized resources will also support health facilities providing case management of COVID-19 patients with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
In their collective letter, the Bishops have taken into consideration that not all dioceses are affected equally. In this regard, they have suggested that three quarters of the proceeds remain in the diocese for covering people who are vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 like the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions and the poor in informal settlements, as well as people affected by other emergencies like floods and landslides.
A quarter of the total contributions is to be consolidated at the national level to address the most affected COVID-19 Counties, the Prelates in Kenya have stated in their letter addressed fellow Bishops, religious men and women in Kenya, KCCB Commissions and Institutions, as well as KCCB partners.
KCCB’s appeal for support follows various appeals from Bishops for needs in their respective dioceses.
On April 16, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Archdiocese in Central Kenya and Bishop-elect Joseph Mwongela of Kitui diocese, Eastern Kenya launched the Hope4U joint initiative to mobilize an estimated US$1.2 million to help feed at least 10,000 families in the two regions and beyond, for a period of two months.
The two Prelates also launched the Good Shepherd Call Center to support people who may have issues of suicidal tendencies, fear, sickness or general anxiety arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Coastal Kenya, Archbishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa Archdiocese on April 20 launched the Archdiocese’s charity donation appeal to support its COVID-19 response.
A day later, on April 21, Fr. Albert Buijs, the Diocesan Administrator of neighboring Malindi Diocese launched a humanitarian response targeting to feed 500 most vulnerable families for a period of one month, using proceeds collected from this year’s Lenten Campaign.
On April 28, Bishop John Oballa Owaa of the Diocese of Ngong launched the COVID-19 humanitarian emergency appeal to support the vulnerable families in the area with basic needs such as food.
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