Along with her work as an interfaith chaplain, Karen Thomas Smith (left in photo) is a part of the Protestant Church of Morocco, and she has written updates on the congregations and the people they serve in this predominantly Muslim nation.
Karen writes on March 19: Our congregations know this is really going to be difficult -- the economic catastrophe created by confinement will likely mean that many lose their incomes -- some are already laid off without pay-- which means of course that churches also don't get offerings, but there is an increased demand for pastoral care as folks experience a crisis. And then, of course, the most vulnerable are migrants and refugees and our normal way of doing ministry with them cannot happen. We could use your prayers and support right now.
Karen writes on March 20: Covid 19 has hit Morocco hard. Morocco's health care system is at a much higher risk of being rapidly overwhelmed than ours in the U.S., which has forced quick severely restrictive measures. With 44 confirmed cases with three deaths as of Friday morning, March 20 (in a context where tests are not as available as they are here), Morocco is now under more restrictive lockdown than in Kentucky, with no one allowed to leave home without government permission except to get food or medicine or work in the most essential jobs. All airports are closed. [There are 170 cases as of March 24.]
Many working church members have been laid off without pay already. The students in the Eglise Evangelique au Mauroc [EEAM] receiving stipends from their home countries are anxious that these will be cut off as Africa takes the hit. Migrants are not allowed on the streets to beg (and therefore have also lost their source of income), and the church's Refugee and Migrant ministry teams are not allowed to meet with them. The Ecumenical Theological Institute is also closed and it is not clear whether students will be able to finish their degrees.
The EEAM is truly concerned about migrants starving. And at the same time, the EEAM anticipates that they will not be able to pay pastors’ salaries.
In partnership with CBF--Ky, a call for contributions to a Corona Relief Morocco fund has been issued. Gifts to the fund will support church members in crisis in Morocco who are mostly living on student incomes, or can be allocated for relief for refugees and migrants.