Cura personalis or ‘care for the whole person’ is a hallmark of Ignatian Spirituality and therefore is a key principle of the Jesuit ethos. It is a holistic approach to health – physical, psychological, and spiritual – which informs our response to the needs of vulnerable communities who are dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kangemi Slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya is home to more than 100,000 people, who live in makeshift dwellings of cardboard, tin or plastic, with five or six people to a room. The slum is situated in a small valley with steep slopes rolling down to the Nairobi River. Due to a lack of sewers or clean water and overcrowding, disease spreads easily. There is no refuse collection so burning piles of rubbish cause smog and air pollution.
In Uganda, where most of the population works in the informal economy, the Covid-19 lockdown has had severe consequences, leaving people in need of income and food.
There are many difficulties in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in refugee camps and settlements, where people are in close proximity with limited access to water, and whose primary need is adequate food. Women in camps in Tamil Nadu, India are using their skills to make reusable face masks for residents to help protect them from infection.
Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya has no reported cases of Covid-19 yet, and measures are being put in place to mitigate its impact.