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KENYA: ENOUGH! WITHDRAW YOUR HAND!

KENYA: ENOUGH! WITHDRAW YOUR HAND!

By Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit,
May 4, 2020

"So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah[b] the Jebusite." 1 Chronicles 21 vs 14-15 (NIV)

1. PREAMBLE
Dear Kenyans, we continue sending to you occasional messages of greetings, Goodwill and hope during this period of uncertainty. Several weeks have passed nationwide since lockdown commenced. We continue thanking God for his mercy, grace and guidance. We express appreciation to our health experts and the Government authorities on how to stay safe. We condole with families that have lost their dear ones through the Covid-19 Pandemic.
We also empathize with those afflicted by floods across the Country. As we mourn and count losses, we also plead with our government experts and local leaders to work out long-term strategies to avert the periodic and persistent loss of life, crops and property. Settlement in the flood plains is risky everywhere in the world, even when flood intervals are long. May God guide and bless us in our search for expertise and resources toward a permanent solution to the problem of periodic flooding throughout Kenya. There is much to learn from nations that have already found long-term ways and means to cope with periodic flooding.

2. CARE FOR THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL
We thank the health personnel for their effort and resilience in management of this pandemic. We continue to pray for all of you; for God's protection and wisdom as you take care of the infected and affected. We urge the health providers to resolve their remuneration issues with the Government at national and county levels in manner that is not going to disrupt COVID 19 management. We commend the ongoing testing efforts by the government.
At the same time we urge all Kenyans not to stigmatize those who have tested positive and have since recovered. We urge particularly the religious leaders and professional counselors to intensify their efforts in providing psycho-social support for those affected or infected.

3. BORDER SURVEILLANCE
It is becoming increasingly clear that border strict surveillance is essential in our relentless fight against the pandemic. We therefore urge the government to enhance border surveillance with our neighboring Countries to ensure our efforts are sustained. In particular, we believe that it is possible to decentralize testing to avoid the present traffic build up in Busia and Malaba borders. Most of them will then have been tested well before they arrive at those border posts and all they will show is their certificate of testing. This will avoid the present balkanization and stress being caused to our people and the potential risk of virus to spread through longer detention of the drivers in the same venue

4. FAMILY REUNION
We do appreciate the plans that are underway to bring back some of our people from the diaspora. This process will indeed take time and resources, but need to be undertaken for the sake of those who have remained separated. Indeed, we note with regret many Kenyans who have been locked out both in the Diaspora and in country hence being separated from their families. We urge the government to do everything possible to bring them home within the COVID 19 Management strategy.

5. ACTS OF MERCY
You will all recall the request in our last Pastoral letter to support the less privileged in both the rural and urban areas of our society, who are currently in dire need of food and other basic supplies. Today, we commend Kenyans from all walks of life who have supported the very needy in our communities. We are encouraged to continue providing support to the needy in the prevention and management of COVID 19. Our over 17 health facilities have trained staff ready to manage the virus in their environment.
So far, we have provided our health personnel with preventive equipment to five of our Health facilities that is ACK Holy trinity Church Kibera Clinic, St. Luke's Hospital Kaloleni, ACK Mt. Kenya Hospital, Nturumenti and Olendeem ready. Our staff have also been incorporated in government COVID emergency teams that are managing the virus in different parts of the country. In addition, we laud the ongoing efforts by our Diocesan Bishops who are busy mobilizing the laity to provide dry foods to support clergy and church members who are struggling with hunger and deprivation. To us within ACK this is the invisible hand of many of our laity who are doing so much and yet never get announced anywhere. They are relentless in giving and they want to remain discrete.

.6. FOOD SECURITY
Do join me in thanking God for abundance of rain in our land. This is enabling many farmers to be gainfully employed during this planting season and we believe God for a bumper harvest. As we highlighted before, we do appreciate the efforts by both National and County Governments to ensure that the vulnerable are supported with adequate food supplies. But it is important that we take personal responsibility to ensure strategic food stocks in food insecure Counties. In view of the on going lock down in some of the cities/ regions, this should be done selectively given the unique context of Kenya. Specifically, it is to enhance and or increase quantities of Maize and other cereals in NCB stores located in food insecure Counties like Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit, and Wajir among others.

7. VACCINATION PROCESS
We have taken note of the pioneer trials for the global pandemic by a number of Countries and are looking forward to be guided by our own qualified medical scientists on the best way forward. Much as we are anxiously waiting for a breakthrough in the vaccination process, we would neither want to be used as Guinea pigs nor be subjected to trails that will be detrimental to our lives.

8. EXTENSION OF SCHOOLS CLOSURE
As we highlighted before, we are aware of the growing anxiety among learners, parents and stakeholders when these learning institutions will open. The extension of closure has now been made clear by the Minister for Education. During this time, we urge all parents to ensure that they look after their children and also those of our neighbors and prevent them from engaging in activities detrimental to their welfare

9. WORK TOWARDS MORE TRANSPARENCY
As a church we have established systems of supporting our congregants using our own meager resources. We recognize that we have a responsibility to report regularly to our constituency, our membership. It is only then that we can earn their trust. So far many of our people are losing jobs and some have had to do with substantive pay cuts. There is growing anxiety from the majority of our people as to what next
It is important that in such a situation, both the national and county governments give regular accountability on how the funds entrusted to them are being utilized. We should be ready to be engaged on a regular basis to explain to our people how such funds are being used. In the same token, we urge the public authorities to do likewise as this will create mutual trust.

10. QUARANTINE MANAGEMENT
Whereas we all appreciate the intentions and importance of quarantine, we call upon the Government to review the management with aim of making the centers friendly to the persons living there. In addition, we urge the government to facilitate timely testing of those who are quarantined so that they don't have to be subjected to unnecessary stress and in the process run the risk of contracting the virus.

11. PRAYER
God, our Helper, we confess our inadequacy in the face of our circumstances. Come with great power and rescue us! Listen to our prayer, O God, pay attention to our plea. With Your help, we will not only survive this but thrive through it all. May all these forces that have come against us be turned away from us.We pray for all the families that have their relatives infected and affected for quick recovery. We will praise Your Name, O Lord, for you fulfill your promises and say that "enough! I am ready to withdraw my anger". Hear our prayer Lord, Amen.

God bless you; God bless our Country.
The Most Rev. Dr. Jackson Ole Sapit,
ARCHBISHOP OF KENYA, BISHOP OF ALL SAINTS' CATHEDRAL DIOCESE & BISHOP IN ORDINARY TO THE KENYA DEFENCE FORCES

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