, 06 June, 2020 / 3:20 AM
Caritas South Sudan, the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops in the Eastern Africa country, has given seeds and farm tools to over 900 households in the Catholic Diocese of Yei to improve livelihoods and to contribute to economic growth in the country.
Angelo Diuk, the Emergency Coordinator of Caritas in South Sudan’s Yei Diocese, told Radio Easter, one of the radios of the Catholic Radio Networks (CRN) in South Sudan, that the aid targeted some 1,960 farmers in the diocese.
“We received these seeds in February and we wanted to distribute them immediately in March for the first cultivation season but unfortunately the issue of COVID-19 came and interrupted our activities,” Mr. Diuk said in the Wednesday, June 3 report.
According to the Caritas South Sudan official, the Church entity he coordinates is seeking to see the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Diocese of Yei supporting themselves by planting the seeds availed to them.
“We are asking the IDPs to make use of the plots that have been assigned to them and to make use of these seeds properly for their own benefit and (for the) benefit of their families,” he said and added, “We would not like to see that these IDPs who received the tools and seeds take these seeds and tools to the market and sell.”
The official said that contribution of seeds and tools is intended to foster the agricultural and rural sector's contribution to growth and equity.
Caritas South Sudan has been partnering with other Caritas agencies to provide emergency supplies to those affected by the famine in the world’s youngest nation where millions of people face severe hunger.
The extreme shortage of food came as a result of civil unrest and drought. In the Diocese of Yei, one of the seven Catholic dioceses in the country, hundreds have been driven from their homes by violence and inflation has contributed to the skyrocketing of food prices.
Receiving the seeds and farm tools in Yei Diocese, Sub Chief Henry Lotiyu expressed joy to the leadership of Caritas South Sudan saying, “I am very happy with the things that have been distributed to us here and in the areas of IDPs.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu of the Archdiocese of Juba in South Sudan has called upon the faithful and Catholic agencies to financially and materially support parishes to meet pastoral needs and care.
“I am aware that closing public worship services will impact on parish and chapel income,” Archbishop Ameyu said in his pastoral message dated Tuesday, June 2 and added, “I encourage our faithful to continue contributing financially and materially as far as possible to support the running of the parishes.”
In the pastoral message, he goes on to call upon “Catholic agencies, donors, international and local partners to support our people with basic livelihood necessities so that they are saved from both coronavirus and hunger related deaths.”
The Archbishop of Juba who doubles as the Administrator of South Sudan’s Torit Diocese encouraged well-wishers to show and practice love for one another “for this is the time to display solidarity, especially with those who have lost their loved ones, those battling with the virus, the vulnerable and the most at risk.”
With the increment of COVID-19 cases and deaths related to the virus in the country’s capital, the South Sudanese Archbishop called for urgent action from political leadership, citizens and God’s people.
“I call upon the government not to easily relax restrictions, and to continue regulating transport systems and movements, markets, economic activities and to enforce compliance to help slow and eventually stop the fast spread of the virus,” Archbishop Ameyu appealed.
On Friday, June 5, South Sudan had recorded at least 1,640 COVID-19 cases, 14 related deaths and six recoveries from the illness.
According to the South Sudanese Archbishop, pastoral directives and practical guidelines regarding funerals and anointing of the sick, weddings and baptism need to be observed and implemented throughout the two ecclesiastical regions of Juba Archdiocese and the Diocese of Torit until a future notification from the presidency.
“In arranging a funeral service or anointing of the sick during this pandemic, the priests or other ministers must comply with government instructions and health advice,” he said and added that weddings that attract large gatherings should not be celebrated as the country fights contagion.
For the Clergy to keep in touch with members of parishes and chapel communities, the 56-year-old Prelate encouraged them to employ alternative communication means such as telephone, email, or social media such as Facebook or WhatsApp.
The sacrament of Baptism can only be administered in emergency cases in hospitals or at home, under strict compliance with the required hygiene and social distancing rules, the Archbishop directed.
He went on to encourage the Clergy, religious men and women and the faithful to take voluntary tests for coronavirus.
“It is only when we know our status that we can better protect ourselves and others,” he said, but observed that the mass testing would only be possible where the government increased testing capacity in the country that would allow easy access.
Calling to mind the experiences in the past, the Prelate appealed, “Let us apply the lessons learned and approaches used in battling recent epidemics such as Ebola and HIV.”
“My dear people of God, let us firmly believe that God is with us, as close as we are to ourselves spiritually during this time of coronavirus pandemic. Despite all these happenings in our history, there is always something for which to be grateful,” Archbishop Ameyu said.
In his pastoral message entitled “A call to prayer and action,” the Archbishop invited the citizens of the world’s newest nation to join Pope Francis in praying for all the catastrophes that have engulfed the world.
“Let us join the Holy Father Pope Francis in praying for those other familiar pandemics: hunger, war, children without education,” he said and added, “Let us pray for healthcare personnel and those who risk their lives in the service of others during this pandemic.”
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