The deadly Corona Virus has taught us that life is precious, in fact all life is precious, be it in the East or West, rich or poor, elite or illiterate. It has taught us the bitter truth that we are all vulnerable—the so called the illustrious, the learned, and in fact, the medically advanced could even be more vulnerable. It has taught us that we all the human beings are important and the contribution of everyone matters, be it done it in a visible way or in a hidden way.
Europe asking technical and medical support of Asia and Cuban doctors reaching out to help in the medical emergency in Italy are some of the remarkable examples.
With the grace of God, the improvised African nations are spared to a great extent. They seem to be in a higher spirit than their Western counterparts.
The world knows that Uganda hosts nearly 1.5 million refugees in the world, and thus it stands as one of the leading countries in the world for hosting refugees. For those living, working and sharing the life of refugees such as me and my fellow Salesian confreres, makes us bit nervous at the wake of this unprecedented viral epidemic that has already killed tens of thousands of people globally.
Living among the refugees and living very much like them, the Salesians are offering the much needed educational, pastoral and psychosocial support to many thousands of refugees in Palabek Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda since 2017. As pastoral workers amidst the refugees the Salesians keep asking, “If Corona virus gets us in the refugee camp what shall we do?” Surely, we are not prepared for this emergency! May God save us!!
Now in our own little way we wanted to contribute to the national and communal fight against this viral epidemic. We started preparing detergent-based sanitizers mixed with surgical spirits and made water-cans for washing hands so as to kill the possible virus attacks. One such initiative is making facemasks for people, especially the youth. Masks sold in the market cost more than one US Dollars which refugees cannot afford or can get access to. We have employed our own trainees to make masks and volunteer to educate the fellow refugees and the Ugandan host community members to protect them.
We purchased for much cheaper price the materials used for masks and the students used their skills to make hundreds of masks every day. They also helped the Salesians to distribute them, educate the people to use them and reached out to refugee settlements with sanitizing materials. Our first beneficiaries are the Army staff, Police, Health Centers, Market Vendors, and casual workers.
Our young people and the Salesians are happy to hear from the Caregivers and the Camp authorities that Don Bosco is the first organization to campaign against Corona virus with education and material support.
Fr. Lazar Arasu, SDB