DR CONGO: Salesian missionaries providing ongoing assistance to those most in need during the coronavirus crisis
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are working to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. After the discovery of two cases of COVID-19 in Bukavu, Salesians suspended the few activities still in progress. In addition to the school, which closed days ago, Salesians have stopped holding workshops, which had still been open in a limited way. Interns and guests of the Don Bosco Center have already returned to their families, except those who live far away or have no family ready to welcome them.
But Salesians cannot stop all work at their centers, at least for now, because of the great need in their communities. Most of the country’s population lives in very bad conditions. There is a lack of jobs, peace and support for those who live in poverty. Salesian missionaries arrived in Bukavu and launched the Don Bosco Center in 2014. The Don Bosco Center is always open and Salesians try to address the problems of those in the community.
People have been kicked out of their homes because they have not been able to pay rent. Others have had small businesses that have closed and lost capital because they got sick. There are some families who need shelter and babies who need proper nutrition. These problems are exacerbated during this time as the world responds to the coronavirus.
“For the time being, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is less tragic than in Europe,” said Father Piero Gavioli, an Italian Salesian missionary who has served for more than 35 years in the country. “Yet one must still be careful. Already there have been about 50 cases of COVID-19 in the capital, with five or six dead. We are preparing for the worst, as we pray and hope that the worst will not happen.”
Fr. Gavioli added, “There are thousands of families around us who live day by day, who eat in the evening because their mother could sell something at the market. If markets are closed, how will they feed their children? And if they leave them open, the disease will spread. These mothers are faced with a tragic choice dying of coronavirus or starving.”
Despite its vast material wealth, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line living on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. More than 4.1 million Congolese are displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.
Salesian missionaries have been working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.
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Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNICEF – DR Congo