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The Coronavirus Diaries: 'This Was Very Real'

The Coronavirus Diaries: 'This Was Very Real'

Wednesday June 30 2021

The Rev Isaac Mulongo reports on his experience of the pandemic in Malawi, including financial struggles, food shortages and spiritual growth.


The news about the pandemic

The news of the pandemic came in a very forceful way. I first got the news in November 2019 when watching news on the BBC. It was so shocking to learn that over 50 people had died with the Coronavirus. I shared the news to my friends first where I was working, the University of Livingstonia. When I explained to them about the catastrophe in China, many did not pay attention. Two weeks later, another person came with the same news. He told us that he had heard from South African broadcasting. Surprisingly, I never shared this news to my family but it kept ringing in my mind. Each evening I became so interested to watch the BBC news and get an update. Each day the figures were rising and my heart started to beat faster than before. I asked myself, 'if this disease happens to come to my country, will I be the first to be attacked and leave my children?'

December 24 was a very special day. News started to come out that the state president will address the nation with a special Christmas message. Everyone that evening eyes were fixed on the television. The state president broke the silence about the pending pandemic. Apart from the Christmas message, he also informed the nation about the pandemic which was becoming a global challenge. He warned people to celebrate Christmas carefully.  Those who said that COVID 19 is a Chinese disease started to believe that the disease is a global one.

Personal experience

The announcement of the pandemic was soon followed by the emergence of different restrictions by the government. Schools were ordered to be closed. My three children who were at different secondary boarding schools and one from the primary school now were fully present at home/house. The house became full with every room being occupied. As a parent it was when I started to feel the impact of the pandemic. I experienced the following:

1. Convincing my children about the disease
Each and every day I had to monitor my children about their movements. Putting on masks was very strange. I had to buy a number of masks for the four children.

2. Taking the position of a school teacher
The closure of school made me take the role of a school teacher. I had to issue assignments to each child but it was difficult to mark the four assignments.

3. Insufficient food supply
Because all the four children were home, there was a shortage of food. I started to observe that my children were not getting what they were supposed to eat.

4. Financial constraint
The stay-home order by the government resulted in low income because we were not paid for three months.

5. Psychologically affected
Psychologically I was affected to see my children staying at home without any assistance from their schools. In addition to that I was unable to provide necessary things like food to my children who were at home.

6. Fear of becoming sick
This was very real. Each day the number of those affected or found positive with the virus increased fear. I always feared to be the next victim. The wearing of masks, hand washing, and using sanitiser was now common and intensified.

7. Spiritual growth
The availability of everyone at the house, working at home and the alarming numbers of those who were infected created an atmosphere of intensifying family bible studies and praying. Personally I strongly believe what Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Rev Isaac Mulongo is Moderator of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia in Malawi.

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The Coronavirus Diaries: reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

Sri Lanka: Daily Numbers are Shocking
Jerusalem: Virtual Prisoners
Bangladesh: We Will Survive by the Grace of God
Nepal: Exhausting and Often Heartbreaking
Malawi: God Has Been Faithful to Us
France: Thankful For What I Have
India: Love Your Neighbours
A Nigerian in Scotland: Alone But Not Lonely
Taiwan: When We Work Together, We Achieve the Best Results
Hungary: We Mourn Each Loss
Zambia: Preparing for the Vaccine, and a Third Wave
World Communion of Reformed Churches: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church
Pakistan: Passing the Light
Lebanon: The Lord Will Not Forsake Us
South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'