Current issue

March 2024

  • Easter reflection from the Moderator
  • The gifts and challenges of motherhood
  • Cathedral anniversaries


Home  >  Features  >  The Coronavirus Diaries: Safety For All


The Coronavirus Diaries: Safety For All

The Coronavirus Diaries: Safety For All

Wednesday September 8 2021

Mable Sichali, a deaconess in the United Church of Zambia, reports on how the church has responded to the challenges of the pandemic.

Zambia has recorded 207,161 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 3,617 deaths, and only 507,707 are vaccinated out of 18 million people. It is suspected cases are higher than is reported.  Death at community level has increased, mortuaries are full to capacity, and there has been overcrowding at graveyards and a shortage of coffins during the third wave.

Strict Covid-19 protocols are in place. Bars, learning institutions, and casinos are closed, restaurants operate on a takeaway basis, workshops, weddings, conferences, and all social gatherings aree indefinitely suspended including Church activities such as bible studies, choirs, and group gatherings, except for a one-hour service on Sunday with a maximum of 50 people per session with online provisions obviously, disadvantaging the majority poor who can’t afford internet services. Funerals have been restricted to 50 family members with services conducted at the graveyards.

This led to an influx of self-medication among community members. The common one is an antibiotic called Azithromycin, and also there is the use of herbs. Hence foods like garlic, ginger, onion, other medicinal spices, and generally, the cost of living is very expensive, made worse by the depreciation of the Zambian Kwacha making it difficult for the poor to cope. The Kwacha is slowly appreciating but prices of commodities are still very high.

The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) experienced a high positivity rate among members including the clergy and several succumbed to Covid-19. It was so severe that a number of our urban congregations were closed for long, in order to safeguard the lives of the masses.

This in itself has implanted fear in congregants that UCZ has faced a drastic reduction of church attendance and revenue as many stopped coming to Church, negatively affecting operations due to unprecedented deficit. Until now we are still working alternately to evade overcrowding, further infections and death. As it were some of our rural presbyteries are five months behind in terms of stipends.

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic the Church has come up with strategies including Missional Sunday that comes on September 26, to raise funds to support those in need and Ministers, especially those in rural areas who are harshly hit.

Additionally, UCZ is mobilising resources to support those infected and affected by the pandemic. We have been making reusable masks, raising awareness about the pandemic and encouraging people to go for vaccination. We are giving food to our target groups, supporting our health institutions with personal protective equipment and some of our health facilities are Covid-19 isolation centres.

We have also been raising awareness of child safeguarding and formation of child protection committees in order to prevent child abuse in times of prolonged lockdown. We have also been training young people in sexual reproductive health, rights and adaptive leadership and psychosocial life skills and women’s empowerment. We have been doing periodic reviews of protocols and are praying for a cure and until then safety for all.

Deaconess Mable Sichali is head of the Department of Community Development and Social Justice for the United Church of Zambia.

Life and Work is the magazine of the Church of Scotland. Single issues, six month and annual subscriptions, in print and download, are available here.

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

South Africa: Resilience and Hope
Nigeria: Life is Gradually Coming Back
Nepal: Our Deadliest Enemy
Malawi: A Crisis That Will Not Go Away
Kenya: Covid is Real
Belgium: Some Silver Linings
South Africa: Will We Keep Listening?
Zimbabwe: Untold Sufferings
A Deep and Inconsolable Loss: Tribute to Phumzile Mabizela
Malawi: This Was Very Real
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'