The Five Needs of Swaziland’s Manzini Diocese amid COVID-19 Crisis

Bishop Jose Luis Ponce De Leon of the Diocese of Manzini, Swaziland.
Credit: Public Domain

To facilitate the Catholic Church’s response to COVID-19 pandemic in the landlocked Southern African Kingdom of Eswatini popularly known as Swaziland, the Bishop of Manzini diocese has outlined “five priorities” for the one-diocese country, inviting the people of God support the course.

“Responding to the challenges being brought to us by the pandemic, our Diocese has identified five priorities among the many needs,” the Bishop of Manzini diocese, José Luís Ponce de León has stated in a letter dated April 30.

Among the appeals is a request for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, goggles and gowns “to protect health workers against COVID-19.”

The 59-year-old Consolata Missionary Prelate is also appealing for hunger alleviation aid to prevent “malnutrition during lock down in the Kingdom of Eswatini through food parcels.”

To facilitate good hygiene, which is key in curbing the possible spread of the pandemic, the Argentinian Bishop is also seeking water and sanitation facilities and commodities such as water tanks and soap to give “communities the basic tools to fight COVID-19.”

In the one-page letter, Bishop José Luís acknowledges the role of information in curbing the spread of COVID-19, and has appealed for support to bring “vital messages and education into homes by providing radios and batteries in rural areas where there is none.”

“Social distance is essential to fight the virus and some families are crowded in a one room house,” the Bishop of Manzini has noted in his letter and appealed for support to build two-room houses.

“If you would like to support specifically one of the projects, please indicate the number of the appeal when making your donation,” the Bishop has clarified.

The 1.1-million-population country has confirmed at least 91 COVID-19 cases, 10 recoveries and 1 death.

On April 22, the Eswatini government retracted the easing down of lockdown regulations, after COVID-19 cases soared from 16 to 32. The partial lockdown instituted on March 27 was extended to May 7.

To keep the faithful  in the country spiritually nourished amid the pandemic that has kept them away from attending Public Mass, Bishop José Luís shares “One Minute Gospel” preaching, on Sundays, on his Facebook page.

On his part, the Consolata Kenyan-born Missionary, Fr. Francis Onyango together with his confrere at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Eswatini, has pinned names of the parishioners on the parish benches in a way, he says, will make them feel not forgotten even as they miss public Mass.

The country, which borders Mozambique and South Africa has a 5 percent Catholic population, spread across 17 parishes that make up Manzini diocese. The diocese is under the ecclesiastical province of Johannesburg in South Africa, and falls under the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).

 


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
[email protected]