Update from Sister Mary following COVID-19 and lockdown within Nyumbani

Dear Friends of Nyumbani,

Greetings today from all of us in the Nyumbani Programs.

This week, being Holy Week during which we remember Jesus’ Passion and Death, attunes with our present experience all over the world of people suffering and many dying as a result of being infected with Novel Coronavirus. We pray especially with the families who are mourning the loss of loved ones that God will comfort them. May Mary, Mother of Jesus who experienced the tragic loss of her son on Good Friday over 2000 years ago intercede with her Son for their healing.

We in Nyumbani have been particularly in thought and prayer with the countries where we have International Boards, starting with Italy, then Spain, UK and USA where the pandemic has had devastating effects and, of course with my native country Ireland, a small country but still hard hit. Here in Kenya, the first case was identified on 12th March, so we have come to the end of those first significant three weeks with 172 cases, 6 deaths and 7 recoveries. Yesterday, our President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta directed that the four counties out of 47 where the present cases were located be partially locked down: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Machakos. Happily, Nyumbani Home and almost all the areas where our Lea Toto children/adolescents live are not affected, so we are able to continue with full service. Nyumbani has been in lockdown since the beginning with only the resident mums and uncles in direct contact with the children. Equally Nyumbani Village has also been in lockdown with all the families and staff in residence. We thank God that we have not had any case of COVID-19.

As I told you in my last Newsletter, we were delighted that the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, KICD arranged for lessons both for Primary and Secondary Schools to be broadcast by radio. Now the lessons are broadcast on TV which is more attractive for students. Our children both in Nyumbani Home and Village are able to avail of these programs which helps pass the day. Sadly, most of our Lea Toto children/adolescents have no access to TV.

Core in our services at this time is helping the children/adolescents keep their spirits up. Both in Nyumbani Home and Village there is adequate space for playing games with a variety of sports and for fun games. Since all public functions have been cancelled, we no longer have Mass, but we can pray internally. We keep contact with our Lea Toto children / adolescents by phone. We are in contact with our alumni/ae and our Entrepreneurship Officer is identifying those who need support and facilitating this. We are very grateful to our local people who continue to support us with food and to new donors who have felt called to reach out to us at this time of need. The generosity of our donors lifts our hearts.

Our prayer continues to be asking God to keep us all safe from COVID-19 and to help us all over the world to contain the pandemic. We see some signs of this happening in some countries. Here in Kenya our hope is that our Health Ministry led by Minister Mutahi Kagwe, who has been acclaimed worldwide as one of three outstanding leaders in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, will be able to prevent the further spread of the pandemic.

United with you as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus this coming Sunday, hoping and praying that we will also see in our countries on that day signs of our resurrection from this pandemic.

God bless each one,

Sister Mary Owens IBVM

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