Irinda and Gachanka families facing rising hunger caused by the coronavirus pandemic
While adhering to the Government’s strict measures against the spread of the pandemic, we remain close to, and journey with, the people entrusted to our pastoral care. What we physically experience, see and hear from families around us is the fact that COVID-19 has caused serious livelihood vulnerabilities, especially food insecurity. Here we share some echoes from three families with a picture for each.
The impact of covid-19 on people within Irinda-Gachanka community is real, felt and it is demanding us to be ever visible by way of expressing our closeness to our people we serve, who are affected by the pandemic, especially the poor, the weakest and the most vulnerable people, both individuals and families all together in the community.
A family of three sharing breakfast with us
Annicleta, a mother of two girls, Kathambi and Patricia Mwendwa, is a widow and lives on a small piece of land with her two daughters. They are our parishioners, members of Gachanka Prayer House. Before the coronavirus outbreak she was used to going out to do any casual work to sustain her family, but movement restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19 has immobilized her. “I am fixed and breathless,” she said, her face expressing helplessness and desperation. Our breakfast on Sunday morning with her and her children, and our listening to their story was an opportunity for the community to, not only discover how much they are struggling, but to share in their vulnerability. Annicleta Nkatha, a widow and orphan, was already struggling even before the outbreak of COVID-19 to care for her children, Kathambi and Patricia Mwendwa, but now the virus has covered them with a shadow uncertainty. They appreciated our outstretched hand through the sharing of Sunday breakfast and some little money for food back home.
Sarah Gerard Mwinbia, care taker of three grandchildren
Fr Jean Pierre Faye OMI, Catechist Frank Mwenda and I (Fr Daquin Iyo Iyan OMI), visited an 82 year old woman, Sarah, who is the guardian of two boys and one little girl: her grandchildren. She lives about one Kilometre from our community. The parents of the little children are deceased. She took them as their mother. Sarah was full of excitement when she saw us standing in front of her small, simple wooden house. We discovered in the course of our conversation how difficult this pandemic time is for her. She can’t move outside of her home because of the information she has that aged people are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In addition, she has limitations imposed by her old age which reduce her ability to cater for the daily upkeep of her grandchildren, and she becomes engulfed in worries when she cannot control their movements to ensure their safety. Sarah thanked Catechist Mwenda for bringing her visitors, Fr Jean-Pierre and Fr Daquin, who came loaded with filled shopping bags to relieve the suffering caused by COVID-19.
Aged couple – victims of land grabbing
Kathambi and M’Mbijiwe are an advanced aged couple, members of our Prayer House, Gachanka. They lost their land which was grabbed by someone else, and the case is still in court awaiting trial. They live in a small wooden house given by a Good Samaritan: their situation is appalling! Both husband and wife are faced with health issues and a lack of food, and are no longer receiving the previous assistance frequently given by their neighbours, because of the challenges now facing them also. Our visit to this aged couple, guided by Catechist Mwenda, was a response to their lack of food during this painful time: which has left the poor, the weak and the most abandoned, very vulnerable. Kathambi, who was left behind while her husband was taken to hospital for treatment, thanked and blessed us for the food we offered and wished us well.
By Iyan Daquin, OMI