St. Eugene de Mazenod Irinda Parish
Corona Virus that broke out in Wuhan in December 2019 has spread across the Globe with heavy consequences, such as massive losses of lives and other relating painful social and economic facts. Kenya registered its first case of Covid-19 on Thursday, March 12, 2020, announced by Mr. Mutahi Kagwe, the Cabinet Secretary for the ministry of Health during a press briefing. In order deal effectively with this deadly disease, under the guide of World Health organization, Kenya Government has put in place precautionary measures and guidelines. Hygiene practices, mask wearing, curfew, cessation of movement between affected regions and those free of infections and interdiction of public gatherings are paramount measures enforced by the Government. It entails that the community at any levels must adhere to change the way they work, their social interactions and the way they live, unfortunately due to citizens’ laxity infections are on the rise daily.
Today Wednesday, May 20th, 2020, the Ministry of Health reported 1,029 Confirmed cases with 50 deaths and 366 Recoveries. Meru County where St. Eugene de Mazenod Irinda parish is situated registered first covid-19 case on Monday, May 18th, 2020. With the increasing number of infections, the government has maintained preventive measures and enforced drastic guidelines to control the spread of the virus from reaching free zone areas.
While measures taken and guidelines put in place serve significantly for the purpose of defeating the invisible enemy and saving lives, however, there are serious unavoidable relating painful facts due to the disruption of people’s daily life. Returned to Kenya on March 19th from my long journey from Rome where I experienced my first quarantine at the General House for 13 days, followed the second quarantine for 21 days, I am finally in my community in Meru for two weeks now. In these days, I have experienced major changes in people’s life; dynamics are no longer the same- a sense of loss enthusiasm, hopelessness and helplessness. On Saturday, May 16, during the burial of one of my parishioners who died from road accident, the number of mourners was limited following Government’s incrustations. So many neighbors and friends couldn’t join the nuclear family to console and share in their suffering. Two old women coming innocently to pay their respect to the deceased were stopped from getting into the compound by the police, and were requested to return home. This was to avoid crowding at the graveside hence lowering the risk of infection. I read on their faces pain and frustration for not having been allowed to join few registered mourners.
On Tuesday, May 18, I presided over another burial restricted to less than an hour, surrounded by a handful of registered mourners- Church representative of the small Christian community, some friends of the family and the family, gathered together to bid goodbye to the deceased. After the burial, the chairman of the organizing committee shared with me about woes endured by people in the village as a result of Covid-19. He lamented the increasing issues of insecurity, crimes, thefts and domestic violence. Families are visited and attacked at night by robbers, mainly youth, in search of monies. Dairy cows, chickens and even garden produces have been stolen amid the crisis despite curfew and lockdown. The impacts of the crisis are diverse. There is more than physical suffering from illness being witnessed, it is really a systematic crisis. Covid-19 has generated economic crisis, social crisis through social distancing that has forced people to stay away from each other, family gatherings, worshiping and other social events. There is widespread fear, concern and daily stress and anxiety. Covid-19 has caused lots of frustration to self-employed members of the community whose movement is prohibited by curfew and lockdown, stopping big and small-scale economic activities. Those working in private and public sectors are faced with rent issues as a result of unpaid leave. We are journeying with our vulnerable members of the parish and the larger community, working and living in informal sector and vulnerable to the risk of virus infection. Some are conscious of the danger of the infection and understand the need to abide by the preventive restrictions against the virus, but due to lack of basic needs force themselves to go out in search of a living to sustain themselves and their families. We are faced with an invisible enemy.
We offer daily the suffering of this time, especially the cry of the poor to our compassionate and merciful God through the intercession of our father, St. Eugene de Mazenod. We also pray daily for all those involved in different capacity in search for solutions to this serious crisis.
By Daquin Iyo, OMI