On April 8, Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers declared a 5-month State of Emergency for fighting the coronavirus, which was approved by Parliament today.
It is not clear what additional measures will be used to control the virus, as many measures have already been in place.
Today there are 56 known cases and 3 deaths, up from 29/0 a week ago.
Ethiopia, with a population of 105 million, has only 400 ventilators, compared to New York City’s 4000 (with request for 30,000 more).
However, our friends in Ethiopia have been hard at work:
- So far they have erected six handwashing stations near taxi stands and in poor neighborhoods where water is scarce.
- They have been making masks for themselves and others (Dereje, below left, and Mezgebu,below second from left).
- Dereje has used his truck to deliver water to the Yeka community, 180 families totally without water within Addis Ababa city limits.He also helped them organize to ask the city government for water trucks, which are now bringing water to 3 of their 4 neighborhoods.
- Mezgebu has helped to organize a food drive that brought in several tons of food. (middle below) Several grassroots organizations will distribute this to families in need. Many pastors have been encouraging all of their members to share whatever food they have with neighbors, whether or not they are believers.
- Fikadu has distributed small monetary gifts, along with coronavirus education, to 50 families of our sponsored children who are in special need.
- Our social worker, Genet (below second from right), and Fikadu’s wife, Tsige (below right), have volunteered to visit these vulnerable families in their homes to check on them, maintaining social distance and wearing masks and whatever personal protective equipment they can get their hands on.
And we are getting help. The Reformed Church of North America recently shared with us their Bible study, Loving Your Neighbor in the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has now gone out to all of our leaders. We’ve sat in on COVID-19 consultations with the Lausanne//Health for All Nations/ WEA Network. We’ve also been connected with the African Coalition for Action, a rich source of resources on managing COVID-19 in resource-limited settings. As we can, we’re sending some of these resources weekly to our Ethiopian friends.
Despite the closure of all churches and mosques, Ethiopians are turning to spiritual resources during this crisis. The government broadcasts hour-long services every night for Protestants, Orthodox, Catholics, and Muslims. Many groups have set aside periods for prayer and fasting. The churches with which we work who had already implemented small groups are flourishing—though members sit outside now, with 6 feet between them. Many others who dragged their feet on small groups are now embracing them. Some of our leaders have asked us to send them all the Bible studies we have for use in family-sized units.
Pray we can help our friends prepare well. We shudder to think of what they may soon face.