JESUITS in Zambia have launched a COVID-19 feeding program for frontline staff and patients in isolation centres in Lusaka.
The Catholic-affiliated initiative began last week and is providing food hampers for caregivers and patients at the Levy Mwanawasa and the University Teaching Hospital COVID-19 isolation centres every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
ZAM Jesuits C-19 Response Coordinator Fr Kelly Michelo explained that it was not enough for the church to merely broadcast online church services.
Fr Michelo appealed to various individuals and organisations who usually collaborate with Jesuits to come on board support the project.
He said the initiative belonged neither the government nor the opposition but to all Zambians who wanted to make a difference.
“We are so grateful to partner with so many people who will come on board. We are all of us in this, nobody should be left behind. It’s not a government thing, it’s not an opposition thing. It’s for all of us as Zambians,” Fr Michelo said.
“So we thought we could come to practically respond to the emergency and mobilise people to come and support like, honorable (Felix Mutati) has come on board to come and support us in what we are doing,” he added.
He pointed out that ZAM Jesuit COVID-19 response had taken into consideration that frontline health caregivers who were risking their lives needed support with nutrition, counseling and also help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 in the community.
Fr Kelly revealed that his team had already mobilised psycho social counselors to provide support to the frontliners.
“As Zambians we came together to say what can we do to alleviate the suffering of most of those people who have been infected and are going through but also find ways in terms of stopping the spread of this pandemic and also mitigate the economic challenges people are going through,” he said.
He said the initiative would also distribute food hampers in the community to some people who had lost jobs or had been evicted from their homes due to the COVID-19 impact.
“So in short this is what this response is all about, it’s multifaceted and it’s a response that is holistic that many people can come on board and support what we want to do it’s not bigger companies, we know companies are in recession now but also any individual can be able to say this what I can do to support,” he said
“Our appeal is nationally and internationally, we are appealing to the Jesuits circles all over the world for us to support them and other organisations connected,” he added.
Fr Michelo said mostly the project wanted to raise money locally through individual giving, either by supporting a food hamper, buying of masks or a meal for frontline who needed to have a warm meal.
“We still in the infancy, we started last week we received some support from abroad and also locally, Zambians have been very supportive of this initiative.”
The initiative was already receiving favorable response.
After donating K17, 000 to towards the project in Wednesday, former finance minister Felix Mutati joined the team of volunteers in preparing meals and hampers cater for 250 people.
Mutati said the COVID-19 was an “unprecedented crisis globally” but also in Zambia which had devastating effects on livelihoods.
He feared that the pandemic would also affect the Zambian economy “which he said was is not strong enough to contain the effects of COVID-19.”
“We just want to send a clear message particularly to the frontline staff, and the patients that they are looking after that on this journey they are not alone, on this journey, we are going to hold hands with them and give them support… and the support will be in three ways the physical part, coming here today to cook food which is important, the second one is to make donations, contributions to the effort and the third level is continue to offer our prayers for both the frontline and the patients,” Mutati said.
Mutati pledged to continue supporting the initiative.
“And we will be with them all through this journey with the grace of God until we defeat COVID-19 patient,” he said.