AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - A missionary: "Let's challenge the virus with prayer, charity and hope"

Saturday, 4 April 2020 coronavirus   prayer   charity   solidarity   missionaries  

Bozoum (Agenzia Fides) - Covid-19 has also reached the Central African Republic. Officially there are eight cases of contagion, but it is feared that the virus may be more widespread. "Last week - explained to Fides Aurelio Gazzera, Carmelite missionary in Bozoum - the President of the Republic announced the first measures (travel restrictions, closing of schools, prohibition of meetings and celebrations with more than 15 people). On Sunday we limited the number of those present at Mass, but we managed to broadcast the celebration at 8.30 on our community radio".
Father Aurelio, parish priest of Bozoum and at the head of the diocesan Caritas, thus decided to organize a trip to meet the leaders of ten parishes and explain to them how to deal with the possible epidemic. "In each parish - he explains - we had a meeting (respecting distances and number of attendees), in which I first presented the disease (symptoms, precautions, contagion, risks), inviting to take this problem seriously. Then we organized ourselves, as believers and as Caritas, to ensure assistance and food for the weakest (elderly, poor, sick and disabled)".
The people I met welcomed this initiative. "Despite the fear - continues the Carmelite -, there is still a great desire to be ready and to give a concrete response to the virus. Unfortunately it will not be easy to block the virus. People here live outside their homes. To be able to get what they need they must go out. Only in this way it is possible to find some jobs, sell or buy essential items and food. Although the number of infections is rapidly rising in Cameroon (284 cases today), and despite travel restrictions, buses continue to regularly go and return from Bangui to the Cameroon border, thus promoting the spread of the disease".
Fr. Aurelio took four days to travel 700 km. "It was a tiring journey - he concludes - but it was a great joy to meet parish priests, nuns, lay people who care first of all about others. Fathers and nuns, young and sometimes old all very worried about what may happen if the virus takes hold in Central Africa. And they are all determined to challenge the virus, with the few weapons we have available: prayer, charity and hope" .
The Central African Republic is a country on its knees. For seven years, it has plunged into a civil war that, despite peace agreements, continues to reap violence and political instability. In this context, already precarious, the spread of the virus can only further prostrate civil society by affecting many people and causing an increase in the prices of basic foods (rice, oil, tomatoes) and basic necessities (soap, gloves, masks and bleach). (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 4/4/2020)