Kampala (Agenzia Fides) - "Uganda is still under lockdown imposed since March 21 st 2020. There has been some limited easing of some measures, but maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask on the road and in any sort of gatherings", says Fr. Pontian Kaweesa, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Uganda who describes the situation of the Church and the Country blocked due to the COVID-19 pandemic to Fides.
"There is still no church or any religious gathering or services allowed. People continue to pray privately in their homes. There has been a re-emphasis of the domestic church. I have heard a lot of testimonies of people and families taking turns to read the Bible and praying the Scriptures, reciting the Rosary and the Litany of Our Lady and the chaplet of the Divine Mercy". There are very many people/families watching Mass daily especially on TVs and those streamed on their smart phones and on radios". During the pandemic and lockdown many families have been following the daily Mass of the Holy Father in Rome with his uniquely edifying homilies and many people have been praying with him for the different people he asked always to pray for – those at the frontline: medical staff, nurses, doctors; the migrants, refugees, the sick and those that have died faced with loneliness at times", underlines Fr. Kaweesa.
Fr. Kaweesa underlines the importance of the world PMS Emergency Fund for the charitable activities of the Church in Uganda. "There has been some situations of emergency that have required the Church’s attention in many dioceses in Uganda. To mention but a few, we have homes of the handicapped or invalid like Nalukolongo home (Pope Francis visited this home on his Apostolic visit to Uganda in 2015); in Kisenyi and Busega all in around Kampala City. Two Congregations, one of the Missionaries of the Poor comprised of Lay Brothers and Priests, and the other of the Missionaries of the Poor Nuns, comprised of religious sisters, have homes and institutions taking care of the sick, the hungry and handicapped (young and old) around the Kampala City. These, cook food daily and feed multitudes of people who would otherwise not have a meal; they also feed those who are so deformed as not to be able to feed or do anything for themselves". Fr. Kaweesa quotes one of them, Fr. Borals, "we have some mentally troubled adults and children with HIV/AIDS who are harder to manage, that is why their relatives abandon them". The monastery provides a home for over 282 homeless adults and children and a medical dispensary serving the slum neighborhood of Mengo-Kisenyi. It provides scholarships for over 400 children and youth at primary and secondary schools. Fr. Kaweesa also recalls that "in the diocese of Kasese in South West Uganda, torrential rain caused floods and landslides that ravaged Kilembe Mines Hospital and displaced many people. The diocesan structures have been converted into a make-shift hospital and thousands of people are being taken care of in two nearby Primary schools".
"A few Bishops with emergency needs of this kind in their dioceses have applied for the special PMS Emergency Fund for Coronavirus victims", said Fr. Kaweesa. "I have forwarded their requested application to the Nunciature in Uganda and I am waiting to hear of any response from Rome. I trust their applications will be answered appropriately. I sent a letter written to all the bishops in Uganda and informed them about the PMS Covid-19 Emergency Fund in Rome to which they too may contribute". "People are currently struggling to make a contribution", admits the PMS National Director however "on the national level many companies, banks and financial institutions, individuals, dioceses and the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) have all contributed money, food stuffs, and vehicles towards the National Task Force to help those in need. We can only hope and pray that this spirit of prayer and charity continues and lives on long past the Covid-19 pandemic. The mission and evangelization will thus be strengthened", hopes Fr. Kaweesa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/5/2020)