At the present time, one objective prevails in our society: to reduce the number of victims of the coronavirus, a seemingly banal cold virus that is responsible for roughly 220,000 deaths worldwide as of 29 April 2020. In order to limit the impact of this deadly pandemic, a huge extra effort is demanded of everyone in our society, and not only of people working in the care sector. This includes, among other things, the voluntary production of face masks, grocery shopping for those at higher risk, child care. Solidarity and charitable action are the new norms in these times. Or should be.
The most effective way to limit the impact of the coronavirus is physically separating oneself from one’s fellow human beings. The clinical effectiveness of this strategy has already been proven in countries such as South Korea and Singapore, and the first effects can also be observed in Belgium, but this effectiveness comes at a high cost: it causes an exponential increase in loneliness, which is felt hardest by the most vulnerable members of society.
On a regular basis, we show our friends that they are not alone in these times of corona. Cards, letters, and drawings are sent three times a week. And young and old contact each other at regular intervals through phone calls and video messages via WhatsApp or Skype, to speak encouraging words to each other. The joyful reactions of the residents are hard to put into words.
In addition to these initiatives, there are Sant’Egidio’s daily evening prayer and weekly Eucharistic celebration, which are broadcast online from the church of the same name in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere. This helps us to stay spiritually and humanly connected throughout this pandemic.
All these efforts aim to reduce the number of those suffering from loneliness. After all, corona already claims enough victims.
For information about Sant’Egidio-Leuven, contact Els Verlinden: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photos of residents Jeanne, Marcia, Wladimir, and Anita are from the Facebook page of WZC Edouard Remy: https://www.facebook.com/woonzorgcentrumEdouardRemy/.