, 02 May, 2020 / 7:06 AM
Members of a Kenya-based Order of nuns have reached out to over 200 needy families in Western Kenya affected by floods following ongoing heavy rains in the East African nation, one of the nuns involved in the Thursday, April 30 initiative has told ACI Africa.
“As Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna (FSSA), Lwak, we thought of supporting the people who are displaced by floods,” Sr. Miriam Jacinta Jagogo said.
She explained, “We were prompted by the havoc that the rains have caused coupled with COVID-19. Just imagine a family or a group of people who do not have much and here comes something (floods) that lock you in properly. That means their ability to get food is not there.”
Drawn from Siaya and Kisumu regions of Western Kenya, the FSSA nuns visited and donated humanitarian relief items to over 200 families displaced by floods in Nyando sub-county located in the Archdiocese of Kisumu.
According to estimates from the County government of Kisumu, some 32,000 people have been displaced by flash floods in various parts of the lakeside County.
Among the items they donated include foodstuffs such as maize, beans, flour, vegetables; sanitation items such as soaps and sanitary towels; as well as an assortment of clothes.
“The Sisters contributed whatever they could from their pocket money, or any other items such as clothes from what we have,” Sr. Miriam who is the Regional Superior of FSSA in the region of Siaya told ACI Africa and added, “Some of us even approached local people who contributed something and the foods we gave from our communities and institutions.”
Describing the situation of some of the families, Sr. Miriam noted, “These are people displaced from their homes and went to reside in a primary school and the flood water caught up with the school. They are locked in.”
She added, “Even us, we could not go in; we had to distribute whatever we had from the roadside.”
The Kenyan-born nun expressed fears that the living conditions of the displaced people could expose them to other health challenges saying, “The rains are continuous; they never salvaged their clothes and beddings; they are sleeping in the cold.”
Sr. Miriam added in reference to people’s vulnerability and exposure, “They don't even have mosquito nets so there is the possibility of getting Malaria and even water-borne diseases.”
On Friday, May 1, FSSA nuns joined the Archbishop Philip Anyolo of Kisumu in launching the Archdiocese’s COVID-19 emergency response fund and presented their contribution.
They are scheduled to distribute relief items to the displaced people in the neighboring Siaya County on Saturday, May 2, Sr. Miriam disclosed to ACI Africa during the April 30 interview.
Though the nuns desire to offer relief assistance to more affected families, the Regional Superior, Sr. Miriam told ACI Africa, “Once we clear the stock we have, we will have to rethink since we do not have a continuous supply to give continuously, unless we collaborate with others.”
“I would really encourage particularly the County government to be aware that in a small section of the country, there are a number of people who desperately need support, particularly food,” Sr. Miriam said, adding in reference to the needy people, “They could have salvaged some few clothes but you cannot salvage a lot of food to last over a month and food is needed every day.”
“The county and national government should really come out and help these people, the number is not so big, it is manageable,” Sr. Miriam appealed.
On his part, the Director of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, Fr. Samuel Nyattaya who accompanied FSSA nuns for the visits told ACI Africa in reference to adherence to COVID-19 measures, “There is no physical distance among the displaced people because they are crowded.”
He added, “They are also hungry, not because they are not hardworking people but because their farms have been washed away by River Nyando and the surge from Lake Victoria.”
The leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu is spearheading support to affected people through the offering of in-kind donations received from Christians and people of goodwill.
“Let the politicians find a lasting solution to the flooding issue,” Fr. Samuel appealed and urged the politicians in that part of Kenya to “put aside their personal differences and attend to the affected people.”
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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.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa