Psychosocial, Moral Support “very critical in COVID-19 situations”: Nun in Zimbabwe

Sr. Madeline Chapisa HLMC, Superior of the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Zimbabwe.
Credit: Website Catholic Church News Zimbabwe

The Sister at the helm of the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelites) in Zimbabwe has expressed the need for psychosocial and moral support amid COVID-19 pandemic in the Southern African nation.

Sr. Madeline Chapisa’s appeal comes after 25 members of the Religious Order tested positive for the coronavirus and one succumbing to COVID-19-related complications. 

“We need to inculcate the spirit of tolerance and psychosocial support. Moral support is very critical in COVID-19 situations as it gives hope to push through the odious experience,” Sr. Chapisa has been quoted as saying in a Tuesday, January 19 report

She adds, “There is psychological destabilization and trauma as a result of COVID-19 and it is important to capacitate our members on how to deal with the situation when it strikes.”

The community of Mary Carmel Mother House located in Zimbabwe's fourth largest city, Mutare, was converted into an isolation centre after 25 Sisters tested positive with COVID-19.

Following the conversion, Carmelite Sisters with nursing profession were withdrawn from their respective mission hospitals in order to assist at the isolation centre. 

In the January 19 report, Sr. Chapisa says that COVID-19 has affected community life among the Carmelite Sisters.  

“Community values have been affected. Prayer, community meals, daily Mass and other pastoral and outreach services have been disrupted by COVID-19,” laments the Superior of the Carmelite Sisters in Zimbabwe.

She continues, “The Congregation had to postpone the professions scheduled for 6 January to a later date due to COVID-19. Many planned events for the Congregation have been adjusted to suit the situation, which only God knows when and how it will end.” 

Sr. Chapisa adds that the pandemic has also impacted negatively on the monetary status of Religious communities saying, “The disaster requires huge financial support to cater for the medication of the affected members and other protective equipment and structures.”

“COVID-19 brings about many expenses in terms of provision of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), a daily balanced diet, provision of equipment and chemicals for fumigation, creation of isolation places and drugs,” the Sister adds.

In the statement, Sr. Chapisa calls on the leadership of the various Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life serving in the country to “come up with guidelines that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Religious houses especially suspending some traditional practices that require the gathering of people.”

The Sister goes on to encourage the people of God in the country to adhere to the safety guidelines issued by the relevant authorities.

“COVID-19 knows no boundary. Adhere to guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” says the Superior of the Carmelites in Zimbabwe. 

The Southern African nation has recorded at least 27,892 cases of the coronavirus including 773 deaths and 17,372 recoveries. 

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Sisters of the Little Children of Our Blessed Lady (LCBL) in Zimbabwe has said that the community has been “wounded by COVID-19.”

“We hope the church recovers from the damage caused by coronavirus because we have been injured spiritually,” says LCBL Superior General, Sr. Anita Jonga, who spoke to Catholic Church News Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the funeral of one of the Sisters who succumbed to COVID-19 complications January 16.

12 other members of LCBL have tested positive for COVID-19.

In the interview, Sr. Jonga revealed that her Congregation has come up with a dispensary at the Generalate where Sisters can receive the recommended medication. 

She further encouraged the leadership of all LCBL Communities in the country to have first aid kits.

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