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Jinja, Uganda: Coping with Covid-19 in a Formation Setting

Warm greetings to you all from the Mill Hill Formation House, Jinja. It is my hope that you are all coping with the times and their challenges. As for us, at the Formation House, we are taking one day at a time, using common sense to respect the SOPS against COVID-19, and over and above all we are hopeful in the saving and healing grace of God.

The entire world has suffered a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic. Being part of the world, we are thus no exception to the painful aches and sufferings of the said pandemic. This time will be remembered from generation to generation and will hit history books for the destruction it has caused to our lives either directly or indirectly. To avoid its rapid spread, many governments including Ugandan Government declared terms of country wide lock downs.

Mill Hill formation house Jinja was not left out from these restrictions. Our formation programmes were greatly affected from studies to sports; from liturgy to socials; from pastoral to personal pillars of formation. Indeed, the socialisation among the community members deteriorated due to the fear and insecurity created by the pandemic. This created a high voltage of boredom in the community.

As mentioned above, one of the negative effects of the corona virus is that all education systems were and still are generally suspended. This had a strong negative impact on the intellectual pillar of our formation and brought relaxation in reading for none of the students knew when schools would reopen. Additionally, the completion of the syllabus was affected for there was not enough time to cover the entire syllabus as planned by lecturers.

The lockdown also affected pastoral activities due to the closure of the pastoral areas including churches.

This made the movement of both students and formators to be majorly within the compound with minimal movement outside the formation house.

However, this period of time was not only doom and gloom. A lot of good things also happened. For example: we had more time to reflect and reconnect with ourselves, with others and with God; some students realized and developed some new talents like playing guitar and piano.

This shows that no matter how bad something is, there are always some good lessons to learn from it; it also shows that no matter how long a journey is, there must be the destiny; and again it indicates that no matter how dark the night is, the sun of the day will certainly rise. We are beginning to see a glimpse of the day.

With the coming of online studies in the world, PCJ was not left behind and this gave us hope for a brighter future in the academic field and consequently all other pillars of formation. Though it was an unexpected shift from face-to-face learning to virtual studies, it has helped us greatly especially in ensuring that we do not lose out on our studies. By and large, while this online learning is not without its setbacks, it is far better than nothing. We are therefore very grateful to God, to the PCJ administration and to our formators for making all this possible for us.

While places of worship were closed, prayers were not closed. Prayer became our only weapon; we turned to God as we prayed for healing; healing of the whole world. Now, things are gradually moving back to normal; places of worship are gradually opening up; and even schools are gradually opening up. This is also true for us at our formation house. As a family, respecting the SOPS, we are gradually carrying out our indoor activities such as growth group meetings, liturgies without outsiders and some sporting activities to keep us fit. God is with us. He will soon turn our mourning into dancing and our sorrows to joy as he brings us to a place of feasting after this period of fear.

By Student’s chairperson, Mill Hill Formation House, Jinja,

Daniel Bwire Okello

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