As of 31st March 2020
Care measures are in place. No classes in educational establishments at all levels since March 13th. With the teachers, they have implemented online classes and have been accompanying families.
As of Friday, March 20th, an obligatory quarantine has been declared for the whole country. Borders are closed until March 31st, though we believe this may be extended further. Through subsidies and social programs, the state has taken both health protection and economic measures within the most unprotected populations (people of the informal economy or the unemployed).
Our sisters are very well. We have put our special attention on the elders. The staff committed to caring for them arrives at the community with an official “pass.” Some of us have one, as well, and we are able to move about, accompanying our sisters or bringing medication, etc.
As a province, we are connected through email and WhatsApp, sharing the life of each community and meeting virtually for those times that require working in teams and commissions.
There is an abundance of information circulating and we count on resources that help us to reflect. They are a form of community accompaniment at this time.
We welcome the offer of the International Communications Team to provide training in the use of “Zoom.” It will help us in our virtual meetings and in communication among the communities.
Guillemette Verschoote, a French volunteer, is in the community of La Cortada, Reconquista, where she will stay until July. She is well, adjusting to the quarantine. She is in touch with her family and with the sisters of the Volunteer Program team in Belgium and France. Another young volunteer from France is expected to arrive in July but we will see what happens during this time.
From the “Come and See” committee: they are coordinating with some young people about participating in the Friday, March 27th, “Youth-Vocations” virtual gathering of the Philippine Duchesne Region, and in the online reflection being organized by the Network of Popular Education and JPIC.
The community of La Cortada in Reconquista, Santa Fe province, shared with us that, while under quarantine, the projects in which they participate have stopped. Those that have to do with food production, however, have remained active; so the bakery entrepreneurship program for youth continues.
In certain sections of the country, given the precarious conditions of housing, lack of water, work, and food, the confinement of neighborhoods is being considered. We can even count on the government’s social measures, thanks be to God.
We know that crises and situations such as the one we are going through now always harm the poorest sectors. That is why our main concern is the people who do not have access to resources to cover their basic needs. In each place where we are, we try to collaborate in efforts related to giving out food. At the same time, we advice people on how to register in platforms that will enable them to receive subsidies from the national government.
Likewise, initiatives are emerging in the neighborhoods, parishes, and charity networks, in relation to food assistance for the poorest sectors. Some of our communities are participating in cooking and the coordination of soup kitchens, dining rooms, and the search for resources (food and money) from among acquaintances who are able to make contributions.
Some NGOs are asking communities to look ahead for community isolation locations - schools, community centres, etc. in case the situation worsens.
The government of Buenos Aires has asked churches to make retreat/meeting houses available for people in quarantine.
School administrative teams have some concerns about paying salaries, given the difficulty of collecting fees. If compulsory quarantine is extended, this situation will worsen.
The service of accompaniment that is offered both spontaneously and in an organized way to individuals, Christian communities, and to various groups, through WhatsApp, is also strong. A network of support and connection is being woven and this provides strength at this moment of bewilderment and fragility.
Two sisters are in Paraguay during this time of quarantine and travel restrictions due to the closing of borders: Aida, who continues to care for her father; and, Josefina, who is sharing this time with Margot.
The situation in Uruguay is similar as far as the measures taken by the state in the face of this health emergency. It has put into place economic means to encourage the return of Uruguayans who found themselves outside the country during this crisis. They are urging us to stay in our homes, and activity is at a minimum. All that would imply a large concentration of people —elementary and secondary schools, clinics, Mass, meetings — is suspended. Yesterday, they declared that all people over the age of 65 must stay in their homes, without exception.
In the poorest areas, there is not much consciousness about self-care and respecting quarantine. Given the prohibition of open air markets, the organization of soup kitchens has begun in several neighborhoods. These arose from the solidarity among families as a way to ensure that there is food on the table each day.
With this current situation, we have postponed the perpetual profession of Jimena O’Neill, originally scheduled in April. We believe that this emergency could be extended because we have the winter months ahead of us. We are in dialogue with the General Council to reschedule this date.