Everyone is experiencing a disruption in their life right now. However, it is important to acknowledge the fact that it is those who live in poverty and at the margins of society who are disproportionately affected. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have members on five continents. Most Sisters in active ministry are working with just such populations.
Please know that our individual actions affect those around us: people who cannot stock up on supplies, whose livelihoods are gone for the foreseeable future, who do not have a home in which to self-isolate. And in other parts of the world, people are living in places where the government has neither the will nor the capacity to deal with this crisis. Please, do what you can to help those around you who are struggling from one day to the next.
The following is an excerpt from an April 3rd letter sent by Sister Carol Wetli, a missionary serving in Nigeria.
Greetings from Nigeria where things can change fast.
On March 25th, we received a letter from our Province Leadership Team instructing us to remain indoors, have no visitors, and tell our workers to stop coming to work. I was supposed to travel a day’s journey on March 29 back to my community after finishing my teaching in the Postulate. Needless to say, I did not travel. Since March 25, all of our communities are staying inside our compounds. All movement from state to state is banned. All stores are closed except pharmacies and food markets.
One thing that didn’t change for me: For 28 years my bedroom has also served as my office, so I am used to working from home. I had finished my teaching, so have spent the past week sorting and packing my things, continuing my handovers of various responsibilities.
COVID-19 cases are now up to 190. Abuja, Lagos and a state bordering Lagos are on serious lockdown. The other cases are in about 8 locations throughout the country. I don’t understand how cases can be counted because there are very few means of testing. In addition, few hospitals even have ventilators or protective clothing for the medical staff. Our village of Fugar is very large with thousands of people living very close together and only 2 or 3 small hospitals. For most of our medical needs we must travel to a larger city about ½ hour drive away where there is one good hospital which can run some basic medical tests for malaria, typhoid and pregnancy scans.
We had been giving water from our borehole to people from the village twice a week. However, for almost a year now, only about half of the solar panels that power it are working. The others were destroyed by lightning, despite the fact that we have good lightning protection. The solar is currently not strong enough to pump water from the borehole into our underground tank, and the fragile electricity which we get now and then is not strong enough to keep the water pumps from breaking down. So we have relied solely on our generator which now is also having problems. We fill all our buckets once a week and pray that they won’t empty before the following week. When there is enough water in our underground tank we can draw water by hand from a rubber bucket let down on a rope.
Yesterday one of our Sisters went to a city about a half hour away to buy food and medicine. She returned shocked that people were everywhere. The local mosque was full of people, the motorcycle taxi drivers were everywhere, and the streets were filled with people, cars, and wheelbarrows for carrying purchased food to the main road for pickup.
Let us to continue to pray for one another since we’re all “in the same soup.”
Please know that the Sisters are praying for you and for all those who are suffering or challenged by these difficult times.
Director of Development
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur