Sisters of the Daughters of Divine Love congregation in Nigeria are providing relief packages and other supplies to street children across the country who have been left homeless and abandoned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a charity home located in Enugu state, Southeast Nigeria, the sisters are reaching out to children to deliver supplies to them. The home, run by three sisters, also houses some of these children. At the home, they are rehabilitated, cared for, and provided with an education. Most of the children are from poor homes and disadvantaged communities and have either lost their parents or were living with guardians who maltreated them and forced them to the streets. The sisters have so far rescued more than 50 such children and are providing for them at the home.
“We take care of the poor no matter how hard it is for us, because it is one of the most important calling in our ministry,” Sister Veritas Onyemelukwe said. “So many people are hungry, and that is why this is necessary.”
Nigeria is presently rated one of the poverty capitals of the world, behind India. Although the country is also one of the world’s largest producers of oil, an estimated 87 million Nigerians live on less than $2 per day, according to reports. While the government announced the distribution of relief packages to vulnerable people across the country, distribution was uneven and concentrated mostly in urban areas, leaving those in rural areas without aid. Many people have protested and called for the easing of the lockdown so they can go back to their businesses to support their families.
On February 27, Nigeria recorded the first case of coronavirus in the country; an Italian who had flown from Milan tested positive. Subsequently more cases were recorded across the country. As of May 3, Nigeria had 2,388 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 385 recoveries and 85 deaths, according to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Experts say the number is expected to rise in the coming weeks with poor health systems and low testing capacity. Nigeria, a country of more than 200 million, has tested fewer than 20,000 people for the virus.
The sisters go to the streets to distribute supplies while observing the guidelines from the NCDC.
“We observe social distancing because we cannot risk endangering people’s lives,” Sister Onyemelukwe said. “We are not bringing anybody inside the home in order to observe some safety measures against the virus.”
In Southwest Nigeria, the Daughters of Divine Love carry out the same commitment to helping the poor amid the pandemic. At their congregational house, the sisters prepare meals and serve them to the poor in the streets.
“Our fulfillment is that these people are happy amid a pandemic that has affected our lives. They appreciate our little kind gestures,” Onyemelukwe adds.
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