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Irish Spiritan prepares South Sudan for Covid-19 crisis The Spiritans, who began operating in South Sudan in 2012, are currently raising awareness of the Covid-19 crisis. The first death from the virus in the country occurred in mid-May. Today the congregation is represented by Fr Boniface Isenge and Fr Sospeter Kiarie from Kenya, Fr Nolasco Mushi from Tanzania, and Fr John Skinnader from Co. Monaghan. Fr Skinnader said: “We all manage pro-jects such as agriculture, education, emergency relief, water or sanitation as well as the pastoral programmes of our Christian communities. “People have yet to fully take on board the serious dangers posed despite the fact that the UN warns that the outbreak is now growing rapidly, with a rising death toll and a significant number of health workers and many members of the Covid-19 task force, including two of the country’s Vice-Presidents, having tested positive.” He explained that South Sudan scores particularly poorly in terms of the numbers of ventilators, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds or trained medical personnel at its disposal,though the WHO is working to improve health facilities and train health workers across the country to help stop the spread of the virus. “In the Diocese of Rumbek where we operate,” he said, “at least some people will be better prepared for the inevitable surge in cases and deaths which is likely to coincide with the rainy season that ordinarily begins in July. “Our focus is a programme emphasising the need for handwashing, social distancing and, ideally, wearing face masks. This engages the women and girls – and the few men – who regularly collect water from the various boreholes in our communities.” Fr Skinnader said that much like all Church personnel in South Sudan, “we have effectively spent every evening in lockdown since the civil war started in 2013”. “The roads are unsafe for us to travel freely to other missions, even by day, and we have to be in our compound by 7pm every evening. Self-isolation comes easily to us. “With the closure of South Sudanese schools and churches, we are using more of our time to pursue other activities such as gardening, farming and food-distribution. We have also built a new primary school at the cost of €400,000 in Holy Cross Parish, an isolated out-station of Rumbek where there was only a ‘hedge-school’ until now. With the support of Misean Cara, Fr Nolasco is constructing a set of four classrooms for use by children from a nearby leper colony,” Fr Skinnader said.“We continue to pray that the peace process will hold, that the virus will pass without leaving behind a major trail of destruction, and that the hard work of farmers here will be blessed with a good rainy season yielding increased food production and helping to keep hunger at bay,” he added. Fr Skinnader was ordained in 1981. He was in pastoral ministry in Sierra Leone for most of the 1980s. He also served in Rome, Ireland and Ethiopia before moving to South Sudan in 2012.
Fr. John Page 8 BACK
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Fr. John Page 8 BACK
Irish Spiritan prepares South Sudan for Covid-19 crisis The Spiritans, who began operating in South Sudan in 2012, are currently raising awareness of the Covid-19 crisis. The first death from the virus in the country occurred in mid-May. Today the congregation is represented by Fr Boniface Isenge and Fr Sospeter Kiarie from Kenya, Fr Nolasco Mushi from Tanzania, and Fr John Skinnader from Co. Monaghan. Fr Skinnader said: “We all manage pro-jects such as agriculture, education, emergency relief, water or sanitation as well as the pastoral programmes of our Christian communities. “People have yet to fully take on board the serious dangers posed despite the fact that the UN warns that the outbreak is now growing rapidly, with a rising death toll and a significant number of health workers and many members of the Covid-19 task force, including two of the country’s Vice-Presidents, having tested positive.” He explained that South Sudan scores particularly poorly in terms of the numbers of ventilators, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds or trained medical personnel at its disposal,though the WHO is working to improve health facilities and train health workers across the country to help stop the spread of the virus. “In the Diocese of Rumbek where we operate,” he said, “at least some people will be better prepared for the inevitable surge in cases and deaths which is likely to coincide with the rainy season that ordinarily begins in July. “Our focus is a programme emphasising the need for handwashing, social distancing and, ideally, wearing face masks. This engages the women and girls – and the few men – who regularly collect water from the various boreholes in our communities.” Fr Skinnader said that much like all Church personnel in South Sudan, “we have effectively spent every evening in lockdown since the civil war started in 2013”. “The roads are unsafe for us to travel freely to other missions, even by day, and we have to be in our compound by 7pm every evening. Self- isolation comes easily to us. “With the closure of South Sudanese schools and churches, we are using more of our time to pursue other activities such as gardening, farming and food-distribution. We have also built a new primary school at the cost of €400,000 in Holy Cross Parish, an isolated out-station of Rumbek where there was only a ‘hedge-school’ until now. With the support of Misean Cara, Fr Nolasco is constructing a set of four classrooms for use by children from a nearby leper colony,” Fr Skinnader said.“We continue to pray that the peace process will hold, that the virus will pass without leaving behind a major trail of destruction, and that the hard work of farmers here will be blessed with a good rainy season yielding increased food production and helping to keep hunger at bay,” he added. Fr Skinnader was ordained in 1981. He was in pastoral ministry in Sierra Leone for most of the 1980s. He also served in Rome, Ireland and Ethiopia before moving to South Sudan in 2012.
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