At Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA), we have been thinking about the lessons we can draw from the experience of the last few months, and how it has changed us and our work. As COVID-19 has spread from just one person to impact millions around the world, we are having to change a lot of what we are doing to cope with the fallout.
In Matthew 13.33, Jesus told a short parable likening the Kingdom of God to yeast working through dough. The spread of the kingdom of God would have such an effect that whole communities would be transformed into places of healing, love, caring and kindness. The kingdom of God continues to bring hope and healing today.
AOA is working with communities in Kenya and Mozambique to combat COVID-19. In responding to the virus, simple messages of good health information are preventing illness and saving lives in those countries. In some ways, it is similar to how the virus is being fought here in Australia. However, in poor and remote communities, it is much more difficult.
One advantage that AOA’s Anglican partners in Kenya and Mozambique have are their extensive community volunteer networks. This is one of the inspiring aspects of their work – our partners have built a network of people in the communities willing to give up their time to help others.
In Kenya these people are called Nyumba Kumis (Swahili for ‘Ten Houses’). They are community leaders who are trained extensively by our partner, the Anglican Church of Kenya – Mount Kenya West Diocese (ACK), to help their communities overcome issues like family breakdown, gender violence and child abuse. Now they are also helping to prevent COVID-19.
ACK has a long history of effectively giving people the information they need to live healthier, safer and more secure lives. This is particularly important now in preventing COVID-19. Nyumba Kumis and community health volunteers are key people who are trusted and who people turn to for help.
Their presence in the community allows vulnerable households who are in desperate need of assistance to be identified. Items like soap and masks will continue to be provided, and food provisions will save lives through their difficult lockdown period.
Similar efforts are happening in Mozambique through our partner there, the Missionary Diocese of Nampula. The community volunteer networks there are called Equipas de Vida (Portuguese for ‘Life Teams’). They have long been giving generously of their time to teach their communities about good health. The Missionary Diocese of Nampula, and their Life Teams initiative, are now a recognised part of Mozambique’s official COVID-19 prevention response plan!
AOA and the Missionary Diocese of Nampula have been working towards the goal of improving health knowledge and access to services for many years now. The impact of preventable illnesses is being reduced through the work of the Equipa de Vida.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to imitate him in doing good. This is how we are co-workers in seeking God’s kingdom on earth. And this is how AOA is joining with others, like the Nyumba Kumis and Equipas de Vida, who are doing the good work of prevention on the ground to save lives.
If you would like to help Anglican Overseas Aid in their efforts to combat COVID-19 in Kenya and Mozambique, you can donate to their ‘Combatting COVID-19’ End of Financial Year Appeal by going to their website and select the first choice ’01. 2020 EOFY Appeal’ in the dropdown menu. Alternatively, you can call them on 1800 249 880, or send a cheque/money order (made payable to ‘Anglican Overseas Aid’) to the address below:
Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC, 3067