Democratic Republic of Congo – Living confinement in Bukavu

01 April 2020
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(ANS - Bukavu) - "For the time being, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is less tragic than in Europe," says Fr Piero Gavioli, an Italian Salesian missionary, as he begins to describe the current situation in the country that he has served for over 35 years. And yet one must still be careful: already there have been about fifty cases of Covid-19 in the capital, with 5 or 6 dead, and in the same Bukavu, where Fr Gavioli operates, two have been found. "We are preparing for the worst, as we pray and hope that the worst will not happen," the Salesian continues. 

Currently, schools, churches, markets, borders are closed, all meetings of numerous people are forbidden, all are invited to stay at home and to go out only for essentials. The same precautionary actions recommended in every part of the world (washing hands often, keeping distances…) are being promoted and adopted so as to be ready.

The Salesians in Bukavu, after the discovery of the two positive cases at COVID-19 in their city, have "radicalized confinement" and suspended the few activities still in progress. Thus, in addition to the school - which closed days ago - they have stopped the workshops definitively – they'd been working in a reduced fashion -, while the interns, guests of the center, had already returned to their families (except those who live far away or have no family ready to welcome them). Even the Mass is celebrated in a cautionary mode.

"But our prayer is ever more universal," Fr Gavioli continues. "From 15 to 24 March, we prayed the novena to Mary Help of Christians in communion with the whole Salesian family. On the evening of 27 March we joined, live, thanks to Vatican Media, the solitary and supportive prayer of Pope Francis."

The thought of the Salesians, however, cannot stop at their works or even at their only direct recipients. "There are thousands of families around us who live day by day, who eat in the evening because their mother could sell something at the market. If markets are closed, how will they feed their children? And if they leave them open, the disease will spread. These mothers are faced with a tragic choice: dying of coronavirus or starving," Fr Gavioli continues.

The same authorities are discussing what measures to take: the National Coordinator of the response to the coronavirus, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, said that the confinement of the capital "is not compulsory", because "the social aspect must also be taken into account."

Father Gavioli concludes: "Covid-19 obliges us to global solidarity. The human and Christian ideal is well defined by Saint Paul: It is not a question of reducing oneself to poverty to help others, but of establishing equality (2 Cor 8:13)."



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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