Earlier this year, writing about our "Extraordinary Missionary Year" (2019 - 2020), I reminded our diocese that COVID19 has not changed or stopped our call to be missionaries. It is our context that has changed. We are called to be missionaries in the midst of a pandemic. There are no "ready made answers" as it is something we have never experienced before.
As the pandemic started in other countries before reaching our own, we were able to quickly identify possible ways to address the needs COVID19 generated.
Clearly there would be a need for Personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers (among others) and food parcels for families facing the risk of hunger.
When the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference (CEI) made some funds available for countries in Africa, we quickly sat down to identify what else we could do.
I must confess my surprise when someone spoke about the possibility of buying radios. Really? Is there a need to provide radios to families?
Government has been doing a very good job of awareness through the different media both in Siswati and English but unless people have access to that media, the message will not reach them.
As our young people visited families to talk about COVID19, they checked if they would come across any without at least a radio. As our project targeted the most vulnerable it was essential to find out if the information being provided by government was reaching them.
It did not take our youth long to make a list of families who would need a radio. We were able to provide over 500 of them in different ares of the country starting from St Phillip's Parish in the month of July.
As I shared with them on that day, these radios are "special" because they should be seen as God's gift in this trying times and should therefore be treated as such. God's blessings always take a special place in our lives.
While we thank God with words and praise, the best way to show how grateful we are is by the way we care about God's blessings. In this particular case by the way we will look after this gift. "Don't allow your grandchildren to take it away from you to go and listen to their music" I jokingly said.
It is true, though, that these radios will also help the children and young people who are not able to go to school as the Ministry for Education offers lessons on both TV and radio.
Never thought a radio would be so necessary for the most vulnerable in our country and I am grateful to the one who was able to think out of the box when looking for ways to protect them.