Press Statement: SAP Jesuits continue COVID-19 Response

(Left-to-Right:) Fr Nicholas Penge SJ, SAP Country Delegate for Zambia, with Sr Agnes Lungu, National Health Co-ordinator at the Zambian Conference of Catholic Bishops, representing Bishop George Lungu, Bishop of Chipata Diocese, at the handover of food parcels at the Jesuit Curia in Lusaka, Zambia.

“Walking with the excluded: Walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.”

Inspired by the third universal apostolic preference of the Jesuits, the COVID-19 response by the Society of Jesus in Zambia, has helped over 3,800 families in Lusaka at a cost of ZMW K1,636,100 over the last year. More than 30 parishes and institutions in Lusaka were the main beneficiaries of these food parcels. Today we are offering a further 1,710 food parcels to a further 3 dioceses.

Since the 25th March 2021 the Society of Jesus in Zambia is now part of the Jesuit’s Southern Africa Province (SAP), hence the rebranding of this campaign. This COVID-19 relief now continues in an expanded form to help even more people across the wider region. Today the SAP Jesuit COVID-19 response will extend its outreach to three Dioceses in Zambia, namely: Chipata, Monze and Kabwe.

Noting with alarm the growing food insecurity in the country, a total of 1,710 food parcels will be given out comprising of mealie-meal, sugar, cooking oil and soya chunks. It is our hope that this small contribution that this campaign is making will help families in the respective dioceses to have something on the table, at least for the coming few weeks. We wish to thank our benefactors who have donated these food items (to the value of USD$25,000) for without their support, we would not be able to offer this help.

Furthermore, it is gratifying to learn of the Governments’ effort to secure COVID-19 vaccines in Zambia, and the Society of Jesus in Southern Africa encourages everyone to avail themselves of these vaccines. Doing so will help reduce the inevitable negative effects on families and communities due to COVID-19. We note, however, with deep concern, that there are many conspiracy theories surrounding these vaccines.  We ask Government and other stakeholders, like the Church and professional scientific, medical and academic associations, as well as the media, to take a leading role in sensitizing and educating the public about the scientific benefits of receiving a vaccine, as well as the moral duty that exists for every person to safeguard the common good of public health. We strongly encourage all members of the public, especially the elderly and the vulnerable with co-morbidities, to receive this vaccination as this will help prevent the most dangerous fatal effects of COVID-19. In a country with a healthcare system that is vulnerable we must all do our part to protect the healthcare system and not overwhelm it beyond its capacity. We also encourage everyone to continue to wear masks, wash their hands, enforce social-distancing and follow the advice of the medical professionals. We only have to see the stories from India to realise that this pandemic is not over.

While experts are predicting a third wave to emerge, it is our hope and our prayer that the effects of this third wave will not be as bad as the previous two on the lives of many households. So while vaccines are being rolled out to save lives, we believe that this donation of food-stuffs etc. can help in extending and supporting livelihoods during this time. Furthermore, we want to reiterate our original call from May 2020, when we originally launched this campaign, that the Zambian Government, like Governments across the world have done, must ensure that the poor are protected from the devastating effects of COVID-19 through the provision of ‘safety nets’ e.g. adequate and resourced social welfare facilities that these communities can access safely.

The Society of Jesus in Southern Africa is a Catholic religious order of approximately three hundred priests and brothers operating in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe and is headquartered in Lusaka, Zambia. It is celebrating the 500th anniversary of its founder, St Ignatius Loyola, in May 2021- July 2022. The Provincial is Fr Leonard Chiti SJ, and he is represented in Zambia by Fr Nicholas Penge SJ.

Come and Support the cause
Campaign Contact: (+260/3/4) 977765775
development@jesuitssouthern.africa

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Press Contact:

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ
Communications Director
Society of  in Southern Africa
communications@jesuitssouthern.africa
+260 (76) 356-2586

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