, 13 June, 2020 / 10:23 AM
The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has, through its development and humanitarian arm Caritas Congo ASBL, launched a campaign to raise awareness about COVID-19 aimed at minimizing the risk of “vulnerable groups” contracting the deadly virus.
“Our people need to get the right information about this virus and we must do everything possible to protect vulnerable groups especially the elderly from contracting this disease,” the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo who presided over the official launch said early this week.
“This is really not the time to minimize or underestimate such a formidable enemy,” the Cardinal has been quoted as saying during the June 9 event.
He underscored the value of the “sensitization campaign” in DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, which is the epicenter of the virus in the Central African country saying, “We want every son and daughter in our city of Kinshasa to receive the right message but also the behavior, the right attitude to adopt in a context of danger like now.”
Cardinal Ambongo who is also the vice president of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) expressed gratitude to Caritas Congo ASBL “for the initiative which comes at a time when the pandemic is becoming more and more threatening and dangerous.”
DRC has recorded at least 4,637 cases of COVID-19 including 580 recoveries and 101 related deaths.
For a period of three months, Caritas Congo ASBL will seek to conduct the widest possible sensitization campaign about COVID-19 that will see its agents equipped with megaphones, banners, and posters traverse the neighborhoods of Kinshasa.
The agents will target the poorest neighborhoods where frequent power cuts do not allow the population to access messages that are broadcast on radios and televisions.
Speaking about the goal of the sensitization campaign, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Congo ASBL, Boniface Nakwagelewi Deagbo said that it aims at clarifying public perception that the pandemic does not exist in DRC.
“The campaign would like to break the pernicious rumour of denial of the existence of COVID-19 deliberately maintained in our city by ill-intentioned people who want to mislead the masses and encourage the spread of this virus whose virulence is reported to us at every moment by the media worldwide," Deagbo said during the event.
He added, “This is the place to say loud and clear: Coronavirus exists but we can avoid it by respecting the preventive measures proposed by the health authorities in our country.”
To ensure better interaction with the population, the agents will be locally trained to serve as relays in their respective communities where they are well familiar with the realities of their neighborhoods.
The campaign will also ensure the protection of elderly people housed in some eight homes of the elderly in Kinshasa, which are equipped with hand washing devices and sanitizers.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the leadership of Caritas Congo ASBL launched an appeal to people of good will to come to the aid of the people of God of Kinshasa and other towns overwhelmed by COVID-19 that knows no borders.
The Catholic Church entity has received support from various donors including the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the General Secretariat of Caritas Internationalis who funded the sensitization campaign.
“On the occasion of the launch of this campaign, we would like to say a special and heartfelt thank you to the Cardinal Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Holy See (Peter Cardinal Turkson) and to the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis (Aloysius John) for their concern for the Congolese population through the means put at our disposal for this sensitization campaign,” the Executive Secretary of Caritas Congo ASBL said.
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