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Archbishop in Zimbabwe Urges Faithful to Facilitate Equipping Health Workers During Lent

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Zimbabwe's Harare Archdiocese

During this year’s Lenten Season, an Archbishop in Zimbabwe is urging the people of God under his pastoral care to reach out to healthcare workers with essential equipment that can aid their efforts to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

In his 2021 Lent message, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu of Zimbabwe’s Harare Archdiocese recognizes the contribution of the faithful in last year's Lenten campaign, which was aimed at feeding the hungry, and invites them, this year, to extend the same kindness and generosity to the health care workers.

“This year we turn our focus again to our health institutions, in particular to our health personnel, who risk their lives every day, caring for our sick brothers and sisters in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Archbishop Ndlovu says in his Monday, February 15 message.

The Archbishop expresses his awareness about the “good number” of the health personnel who have been infected with COVID-19 and wishes eternal rest to those who have succumbed to the disease.

To support the health workers in their “challenging work,” Archbishop Ndlovu invites the people of God under his pastoral care to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) - Tyvek Suits, gumshoes, facemasks, aprons, surgical gowns, goggles, face shields, and cover shoes.

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He goes on to encourage Christians to donate other essential medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators, suction machines, laryngoscopes, infrared thermometers, sanitizers and dispensers during the Lenten Season that begins Ash Wednesday, February 17.

“It is my hope and prayer that we shall all do our level best to give a hand to this worthy cause as individuals, Small Christian Communities, sections, guilds and associations,” the Zimbabwean Archbishop says in his one-page message for Lent titled, “Helping Healthcare Workers to Help the Sick.”

The 65-year-old Archbishop reminds Catholics of Pope Francis’ words in his Message for Lent 2021 where he notes, “To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

“Let that be the way we express our journey of faith during this Lenten Season, leading to the Easter celebration of our new life in the risen Lord,” the Archbishop says in his February 15 message obtained by ACI Africa.

The landlocked country of Zimbabwe is among Southern African nations that have recorded a surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the new mutation of the disease identified as the 501.V2 variant.

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To date, the country has recorded at least 35,172 cases of COVID-19, 30,601 recoveries and 1,400 related deaths.

On Monday, February 15, the country’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the national lockdown set to end on the same day by another two weeks, noting, “Every life lost is a big loss to us.”

The renewed lockdown directives that had been given in January have extended the closure of learning institutions and the ban on social gatherings.

President Mnangagwa extended the lockdown restrictions on the same day that the first batch of an estimated 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government arrived in the country.

Zimbabwe is among the first three African nations listed by China as the recipients of the free doses of the vaccine, alongside another 11 developing countries.

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With the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine, the country is expected to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program this week.

According to the country’s Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro, the vaccination will be done in phases, with priority being given to frontline health personnel who are at a high risk of infection, followed by those with chronic illnesses, the aged, and those in prison.

Phase two of the vaccination program is expected to target those at medium risk of COVID-19 infection such as staff at educational institutions. Meanwhile, phase three is to target those populations considered low risk.

In his February 15 Message for Lent, Archbishop Ndlovu observes, “For the second year running, we are most likely going to celebrate this gracious season as well as Easter, outside our usual centers of worship.”

Against this reality, he encourages the people of God in the Southern African nation “not to be disheartened, but continuously seek Him who never deserts us, even in times of trouble.”

“Instead let us renew our faith and hope in Him, and ‘receive with open hearts the love’ that he gives us,” the Archbishop of Harare says.