TEKELEZA WAJIBU WAKO: COVID-19
신종 코로나바이러스, 이렇게 예방하세요.
In aknasnasye poum (Ollac Poum)
आफ ् नो भागको गर ् न ुहोस ्: COVID-19
The above phrases link to instructions for care and news about COVID-19 in multiple languages. You can find more here. COVID-19 has touched nearly every nation, even to the small, beautiful and pristine island of Providencia, off the coast of Colombia (population 5,011). Oh, there are a few countries which neither we, nor apparently the coronavirus, can find on a map. Countries, whose names we have trouble pronouncing, like Kiribati, Comoros, Nauru, Palau, Sao Tome and Principe, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, whose economies are perhaps a gagillionth of the United States GDP, remain, as of April 2, 2020, untouched by COVID-19.
COVID-19 has emptied the streets of the world’s largest cities, has populated the world’s largest hospitals, and has struck fear into the hearts of the most intrepid. It has leveled world leaders and the least known, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. COVID-19 has truly gripped the chests of people across the globe in a way that two generations have not had their hearts or chests seized. My mother, who lived through internment camps of the Japanese during World War II, and then the camps of the Indonesians after the war, told me “This is worse than wartime. You cannot see the enemy.”
COVID-19 in any language, in many languages, has impacted the world. How shall we respond?
We are grateful for the technology which allows us to reach out and help. But believers reaching out to help in times of epidemics precedes technology. Plagues, pandemics, and hysteria are not new to the world nor are they stepping onto the pages of history for the first time. Both Christian and non-Christian accounts, tell of how Christians have navigated epidemics, disease, suffering, and death in the past. In 251, the Bishop of Dionysius wrote, “[m]ost of our brother-Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of the danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbours and cheerfully accepting their pains.” And, lest we think that Dionysius was just biased in his assessment of Christians, a century later, during yet another pandemic, the Emperor Julian wrote an AD 362 letter, that the Hellenists needed to match the Christians in virtue, blaming the recent growth of Christianity on their “benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the pretended holiness of their lives.” Elsewhere he wrote, “For it is a disgrace that . . . the impious Galilaeans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well.”
It is no different today. And it should not be. Pregnancy help centers around the world are open, sacrificially helping where others might not. An international affiliate leader in Africa wrote, “Even COVID-19 cannot stop the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, the virus may cause many women with unplanned pregnancies to question their decision to choose life.”
In the midst of the loud and constant COVID-19 discussion, there remains a quiet, steady voice also being heard across the globe. It is also a voice heard in many languages. It is the calm, reassuring voice of staff and volunteers in international pregnancy help organizations in many countries connected through the latitudes and longitudes to individual women facing unplanned pregnancies. As one of our Heartbeat International affiliate leaders has said, “Many of the PHOs will continue to provide options counselling online and telephonically and we at Africa Cares will continue to provide support and encouragement to help them at this trying and critical time…. Some of the pregnancy help organisations in the Africa Cares network are temporarily closed and some are only offering essential services (pregnancy testing, options counselling and ultrasounds), some are rotating volunteers and some are only offering online support.”
Another leader, also in Africa, wrote to her affiliates “As necessary, and as you are able, stay in contact with clients through the gift of technology.”
From another leader in Canada, we heard, “A number of centres have reported that client needs have increased since the onset of COVID-19. There has been a greater need for material supports, as well as an increase in the number of new clients and callers looking for abortion information. It's clear that the pressures of an unexpected pregnancy are magnified during times of crisis.
“This has put incredible stress on pregnancy care centre staff and volunteers as they are trying to help those in need. Thankfully, most centres are still able to provide material supports (diapers, formula, etc.) and meet with clients in a number of innovative ways (text, phone call, online platforms).”
From Africa, to Asia, to Europe, South America and North America, pregnancy help organizations are open where the law still permits them, but answering phones regardless, speaking in many languages the same reassuring phrase, “How may I help you?” Loving help in many languages.
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date. We are working to keep our articles up-to-date as changes surrounding COVID-19 occur, and we encourage everyone to check the CDC, WHO and their local authorities as the situation is ever-evolving.