I still remember the day I heard of the first confirmed case of COVID 19 in Nigeria with some humour. “What! Corona virus in Nigeria?” (As if, Nigeria was not on this planet) I was greatly alarmed, and I went about breaking the news to anyone who may not have heard, until I broke the news to one man and he told me “Sister ema wori (Sister do not worry) it will come and go, we will beat it”.
I literally laughed out loud. Do excuse me, there is nothing funny about COVID 19, I know. Perhaps the man’s aggressive denial of the COVID 19 reality evoked my amusement.
Unfortunately, denial of COVID 19 is still the stance of many Nigerians even with the daily increase in the number of confirmed cases; many believe it is a hoax. One may not necessarily blame them; our leaders, the Nigerian government has not been very transparent in the handling of Corona virus issues. For instance, we see figures of confirmed cases daily, but we hardly see neither the patients, the hospitals nor the isolation centres in use for the COVID 19 patients. The government tell us to wear facemasks and to keep to the two metres social distance guidelines but many of the government officials do not keep to any of the COVID 19 guidelines. There are also stories of cases of falsified COVID 19 test results, where negative becomes positive. It therefore becomes very difficult for the ordinary Nigerian to believe the reality of this virus. Nevertheless, one undisputable reality of COVID 19 is the direct and indirect hardship its effects has brought upon humanity, especially the poor.
As the world continue to grapple with the realities of COVID 19, the indigent remain the most affected by the disease. Hence, support for the indigent is a big part of the fight against Corona virus world over, especially in poor countries of the world. Nigeria is in dire need of this support. Oyo State like the rest of the country is a home for many indigent people who could barely feed even before the COVID 19 Pandemic. Hence, COVID 19 only made life more difficult for many who apart from poor and improper living conditions, lack proper nutrition and basic social amenities including water which is very essential at this time.
Amidst these challenges, we felt the touch of Divine Providence. The Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan got support from MISEREOR Germany, and provided foodstuff for 1009 indigent households in Ibadan and some other local government in Oyo State. Thanks to MISEREOR; I was delighted to be part of the programme as I brought my Religious Sisters of Charity spirit to bear on the process.
Part of the remote preparation for the distribution of the foodstuff was the shopping and re-bagging of 104 bags of rice, 61 bags of beans, 60 bags of 60kg of Garri, 100 cartoons of tomatoes pastes, 84 carton of vegetable oil and 24 bags of onions for the 1009 Households. Hard work indeed! In order to ensure a credible distribution of the foodstuff to poor, we went through the community leaders, the parish priests, the Religious Sisters of Charity Ibadan community, the Community Development Association and the JDPC-Parish promoters who assisted in the identification of those most in need.
His grace Archbishop Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, the Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese flagged off the distribution on May 26th 2020. The beneficiaries were all people of God who are poor irrespective of their religion, tribe and ethnic group. They were mostly widows, the aged and the disabled. It was indeed a great opportunity to reach out; we did not only give them foodstuff, we used the opportunity to enlighten them on COVID 19 and encouraged them to stick with the COVID 19 guidelines and stay safe.
It was a worthwhile experience, well strategized with good crowd control. We distributed the foodstuff in batches at the different local Government areas and made good efforts to keep the guidelines of COVID 19 in view. Yes we needed to stay safe ourselves during the process and most importantly after the process.
Sr. Augustina Offor
Below: Sorting and Packaging
Packaged foodstuffs for households
Distribution and COVID 19 enlightenment at Ibadan South East
Distribution at Ibadan North East, a beneficiary signing the distribution JDPC register
The Archbishop saying the closing prayers during the Flag 0ff Ceremony
The director Fr. Owoeye , Archbishop Abegunrin and the Caritas Desk Officer, Sr. Offor at the Flag 0ff Ceremony
One of the beneficiaries expression gratitude on the Flag Off day
Some of the beneficiaries leaving with the foodstuffs