By Philippe Lolonga
Since the start of the epidemic declared on March 10, 2020, the cumulative number of confirmed cases is 1,628. In total, there were 61 deaths and 290 people healed.*
All of the first four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Goma were healed and a week later, we have already recorded 5 additional cases of COVID-19 in the community. We have a real problem of awareness to fight COVID-19 and this requires everyone’s involvement.
“Harper Hill Global helps our communicators send awareness messages to the community, a thing that we fully appreciate,” said Rev Germain Masinda, interim district superintendent of the Goma United Methodist District.
Mother Mbilizi Bonane who is President of United Methodist Women of Bukavu said, “The message I received on April 21, 2020 from the communications department in East Congo helped me a lot to sensitize the people of my Hippodrome street in Bukavu. This message said: ‘Coronavirus is a reality. Let’s continue to observe the barrier measures to curb the spread of COVID 19.’
I found two people denying the existence of this disease in the city of Bukavu when I intervened by showing them the message of Bishop Unda, [then] these people easily believed me.”
Mbilizi also addressed the Churches of Christ women’s federation of South Kivu, interviewing more than ten women leaders from the different communities that she had sensitized with inspiring messages that received every day in my phone.
Mbilizi advocates for the availability of posters which could allow her to raise awareness at the community level.
Jolie Shabani who is women’s communicator in Kivu says: “Harper Hill Global is our partner in the East Congo, and this organization helps us to raise awareness in the region which allowed us to cope with the Ebola Disease in Beni, Goma and Bukavu. Today I am pleading for Harper Hill Global to be able to further strengthen our awareness campaign.”
Jolie adds that most of the people who receive our messages also ask us for handwashing kits and food since COVID-19 has brought an additional economic and food crisis in the region.
Madam Elvine Lushina, spouse of General Health Coordinator in East Congo, thanks the communication department in East Congo for the awareness messages and asks also for megaphones to raise additional awareness and save the lives of people in Bukavu.
Judith Osongo, Director of Communication – East Congo UMC says, “In addition to sending messages via the messaging system set up by the United Methodist Church, we also send messages in social media networks. At least 16,000 people received the awareness messages every day for a month in North and South Kivu. Together with Harper Hill Global, we are looking at how to improve the work in raising awareness in rural communities where most of the population does not have a telephone and network telecommunications does not exist in some places.
Judith believes that through raising awareness, we will one day end COVID-19.
“I ask other partners to help us raise awareness in rural areas where people continue to deny the existence of COVID-19,” said Dr. Marie Claire Manafundu who is the wife of Bishop Gabriel Unda of Eastern Congo and the head of the Mama Lynn Center in Kindu. She thanks Harper Hill Global for this support in the East Congo in all forms and pleads for rural women be educated and made aware of COVID -19 prevention.
“The message from the Communication Department wakes me up every day. If we bring these kinds of messages to rural areas, we will eradicate COVID-19,” concluded Dr. Marie Claire Manafundu.
Lolonga is a correspondent of Harper Hill Global based in Kivu. You can email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call to 00243992756779.
*Bulletin dated May 17, 2020