News in brief

In this section, you will find brief updates from our partners in the Global South and how COVID-19 has affected their work and their communities.

March 26, 2020

Location: Darjeeling, India
Partner: Human Life Development and Research Centre (HLDRC)

The whole world is fighting against COVID 19. We continue to pray for Canada and the most affected countries like Italy, China, Iran and many others.

Here in India, it is also bad as over 500 cases have been confirmed and about 12 have died so far. The Indian government has declared a 21-day lockdown and ordered everyone to stay home. However, this poses a great challenge in addressing the basic/essential needs of the people we serve. The poor will again be the most affected by this lockdown.

In the last few days, HLDRC has formed an action team to reach out to poor people in the tea gardens. The team will act as a helpline in educating them to follow proper medical care and isolation procedures. For sometime, the tea gardens were not part of the  lockdown due to economic reasons as it is peak plucking season. However, our hard work drafting complaints to the local authorities and at state level paid off.  Advocacy has worked and now tea garden workers are also under health security coverage. The  announcement by the Indian Prime Minister for a 21-day lockdown has also created big problems for daily wage and contractual workers as food and other social security are not enough to sustain them in the next 21 days.

HLDRC will take the lead in negotiating with local and state governments to address important issues during this crisis. Let us rise during this moment in our history and FIGHT TOGETHER against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let us stay strong and pray for one another.

– Fr Pascal Xalxo SJ

March 25, 2020

Location: Chiapas, Mexico
Partner: Indigenous Rights Centre (CEDIAC)

In Mexico, we entered into phase 2 (community transmission) of the outbreak yesterday.  Fear abounds as we realize we are slowly getting mired in the pandemic: there is uncertainty because we do not know what is going to happen; panic because of what we see in the news happening in other countries; and disbelief that COVID-19 has arrived and can affect us.

The government has been requesting people to stay home. As a consequence, people have been panic-buying resulting in an increase in price and scarcity of products and groceries. Chiapas is one of the states that has registered the fewest cases. This may be due to the lack of health services (and testing) because Chiapas is often visited by tourists. Most parts of the state are rural, offering some degree of protection. However, last week, there was a sudden influx of students and workers from other states who returned to their communities. This undermined the quarantine protocols.

We had a meeting with the coordinators of the different projects and services of the Mission across our territory. Our objective was to explain the following measures the diocese has taken (following the Episcopal Conference instructions): suspension of activities in the ermitas (Indigenous parishes), suspension of worship and activities for Easter, and suspension of visits to the sick, etc.

For communities like the Tseltal that have a deep sense of religiosity, these measures have come as a shock as they draw much strength from their faith.  These measures have increased the uncertainty and confusion within communities. Furthermore, activities will practically be suspended in the Mission offices, since working  from home is not feasible. Most of our collaborators do not have internet at home, and any virtual collaborations will be limited to emails.

Let us pray for each other.

– Fr Guillermo Estrada SJ
Legal representative

March 25, 2020

Location: Nepal
Partner: Nepal Jesuits

Our country is in complete lockdown. You can hardly find people and vehicles in the streets. Nepal has 4 confirmed coronavirus cases so far.

Our educational institutions are closed indefinitely. All the Jesuits and our collaborators are healthy and safe. We have sent home the boys and girls from our Social Service Centre due to the  present crisis.

– Fr Boby Joseph SJ

March 25, 2020

Location: Nepal
Partner: St. Xavier’s School Sadakbari

The situation here is not as bad, but you never know when things may escalate. We are closed from March 18 onwards. We were about to finish our final terms when the government announced the closure of all school and colleges. It is a complete lock down lasting 10 days, but rural life is freer than in the towns…big space. We are virtually prisoners in the campus.

We are hearing lots of news about the coronavirus…including Canada. People are very frightened for the simple reason that if the Global North is not able to do anything, then what will happen if it hits Nepal?

Let us pray that this pandemic may end soon and normalcy in our daily life be restored. Thanks once again to CJI family for your concern and care. May God bless us and protect us!!!!!

– Fr Vijay Toppo SJ

March 25, 2020

Location: Kenya
Partner: Children of God Relief Institute – Nyumbani

So far, all is well with us, and we are able to continue as usual with our services to our special children. We are aware that Canada is at a different stage in containing the novel coronavirus and we hope that containment is in sight.

– Sister Mary Owens

25 March 2020

Location: China
Partner: Casa Ricci Social Services Foundation

In China, the situation is getting better, but it is not yet stable.  Never before have we felt so strongly that the whole world is connected. You cannot get better if other parts are still struggling. It is as if nature had pushed the emergency stop button of this fast and crazy train that is our world. The sad thing is, as usual, it is the poor and the weakest ones who suffer the most: those who have no seats on this train!  All this uncertainty will make us more humble.

– Fr Fernando Azpiroz SJ
Chairman of the Executive Committee

24 March 2020

Location: India (Mundgod)
Partner: North Karnataka Jesuit Educational & Charitable Society

All our centres, schools and parishes are shut down until March 31. We are not allowed to go outside our compounds. Everything is restricted. Yesterday, government officials visited our schools and hostels, saying that in case of an emergency, they plan to convert these into quarantine centres. People still go outside of their homes; some of them do not understand the seriousness of the situation. Up until Saturday, we were still going around the communities to help people understand the gravity of our new reality. Now we are inside our own homes, and not allowed to move about. I reach out to the people and communities we work with through prayer.

I pray for all of us and ask God to heal our planet and people.

– Fr Francis Menezes SJ
Vice President

24 March 2020

Location: Ecuador
Partner: Fundación Rio Manta

Since last week, we have been working from home and trying as much as possible to support the community that needs us, including the elderly, as well as boys and girls. We have been assisting as much as we can, given our current strengths and limitations. Our efforts have been focused especially on providing food to those in need. We also try to ensure the well-being of our collaborators. The COVID-19 cases are increasing every day, and we already have over 500 cases.

– Ing. Genny Delgado
Executive Director

24 March 2020

Location: Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda
Partner: Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Eastern Africa

Indeed, the COVID-19 situation is turning the world upside down with many worries and anxieties. Since the first confirmed cases in Eastern Africa countries, we have been busy ensuring the safety of the staff while not abandoning the people we are called to serve. It is not an easy task, considering that given the current circumstances, our work does put their lives at risk.

– Andre Atsu
Regional Director

24 March 2020

Location: India
Partner: Jesu Ashram

We have been in lockdown for two days now, and we are unable to offer assistance to people who are suffering and need our help.  I am trying to protect our patients, staff and students.  This has become a huge responsibility of mine. Let us pray this passes away soon. May God protect and help us.

– Fr Julius Kujur SJ

24 March 2020

Location: India
Partner: Darjeeling Jesuit Province

Most of the states in India, including West Bengal, are under lockdown. There  are 498 coronavirus cases and 9 deaths reported as of today.  There is a lot of fear and anxiety as the number of affected increases everyday. There are no cases as of yet in North Bengal. Since March 22, all the parish Masses have been cancelled,  all the schools shut down and all public transport closed, including train and air service. Starting today, the police are enforcing a strict curfew. No outside work can be done.  The Jesuits here are working as per usual. We fall back on God’s Grace, the ultimate source of everything, in these testing times…Let’s live in hope and radiate it to one another.

– Fr Joseph Victor Pitchai SJ
Province Treasurer and Province Development Director

23 March 2020

Location: Colombia
Partner: Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Colombia

Greetings from Bogotá. The quarantine started here last Friday, initially as a test, and it will now be implemented nationwide starting Wednesday, March 25.

We are certainly affected by the coronavirus health crisis. The entire JRS team and its 6 offices are now operating remotely with a few exceptions, primarily to finalize some commitments that were made beforehand. The challenge we are now facing is supporting migrants who are vulnerable, most at-risk and who have no social safety net to rely on during such a crisis. We are looking into alternative ways of giving support as we also need to protect the team from the risk of infection.

For now, we think that the quarantine will continue until the end of April, but it may be longer.

– Fr Mauricio Garcia Duran SJ

23 March 2020

Location: Pan-Amazon Region
Partner: Jesuit Service for the Pan-Amazon Region (SJPAM)

SJPAM has cancelled all project activities and events until the end of May. This includes Easter activities with Indigenous communities. They also postponed an international meeting of Fe y Alegría on the Pan-Amazon which was to take place in Boa Vista, Brazil.

– Fr Alfredo Ferro SJ

20 March 2020

Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Partner: Fe y Alegría DRC

Fe y Alegría Congo is closely following the situation in Canada. We are aware that this is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that has enormous consequences on a national level, as well as impacting many families.

Fe y Alegría Congo wanted to express to the CJI team our profound compassion and offer our humble prayers. We are sure that an adequate solution will be found and it will relieve the sorrowful cries of  humanity.

–  Fr Alfred Kiteso SJ

(Banner photo by Jesuit Hakimani Centre: An “ecology of gratitude” is needed to safeguard and share water sources in Garissa County, Kenya — and everywhere)