Covid-19 and the Diocesan response
27 April 2020
The total reported cases of Covid-19 in Tanzania are about 300 and, as might be expected, are mostly in the cities. Bishop Given reports that there much fear and confusion, particularly in the rural areas, and explains that the first local transmissions of the Covid-19 Virus happened last week.
The Bishop tells of an elderly man in Chemba who was chased and beaten because he left his home to get food, he was put in prison and the Bishop has had to intervene to assist him. He says that people have heard about “Covid-19” but don’t know what it is. They are frightened and even where their crops have been eaten by insects (not locusts), that worry has now been overwhelmed by the dominating fear of Covid-19.
Food costs in Kondoa have increased dramatically, the Bishop does now know whether this is the same in the villages, as he and Lilian are following advice to stay at home. Just by way of an example, a sack of maize should sell in Kondoa for Tshs 30,000/= but is now costing Tshs 70,000/=.
Last week, Bishop Given met with the eight area deans to discuss the Diocesan response. They agreed to establish a Social Services Committee, which will include a doctor and nurse (both worship at the Cathedral) and a pastor.
This group will be provided with protective equipment (mask and gloves) and will visit the villages to provide education about the virus and how to prevent transmission, and to distribute food and sanitiser or soap. They will also provide practical advice such as how to build a tippy tap (see right), to help with handwashing when water is scarce.
The Bishop is now seeking permission from the District Commissioner for the Social Services Committee to carry out its work.
Some people have very generously sent funds, and these will be used by the Social Services Committee as described above. Any funds received may also be used to pay the teachers and guards at the Theological College, now that the students have had to be sent home.
Sadly, the Diocese is, again, almost entirely dependent on donations because income from the Cathedral congregation has dramatically reduced and the income from the new Mothers’ Union hostel has been lost (from government workers and overseas visitors).
I am sure we are all praying for God’s protection from the virus in Tanzania. Please can we also pray for his blessing on the work of the Social Services Committee and for speedy permission from the District Commissioner for the Committee to start work.
For further reading, this United Nations publication is concise and informative.