By Sharon Platt-McDonald, Director for Health, Women’s Ministries and Community Outreach
“Your help has been lifesaving. I’m not sure what we would have done without the wonderful meals you provide for us each day. We are so very grateful.” The gentleman’s eyes filled with tears as he shared these words with us.
This was an individual from the community, whose family members, he reports, “had a rough time with the virus.” As a result, they had been left very unwell and unable to cater adequately for themselves, and required external intervention. Another grateful person enthused: “We really appreciate the tasty hot meals you provide; they have kept us going! We can’t thank you enough!”
We have received similar accounts like these during the height of the pandemic and throughout the national lockdowns.
There is much we can do on a practical level to bring relief to the suffering. As such, I initiated a Convalescence Project called ‘Restoration’, which seeks to meet the needs of individuals recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus, and those who are experiencing what scientists have identified as ‘Long COVID’*1.
An increasing number of people, having been treated for COVID-19, are encountering various challenges when they return home from hospital. For example, several individuals reported that they continue to experience breathing difficulties and significant fatigue. Some are reporting feeling very flat and low in mood, and even quite depressed. Others have reported that the ongoing fatigue and lack of energy are such that they are unable to adequately care for themselves, or even to prepare substantial meals. This prevents them getting out to shop for essential household items. This has been a huge burden especially for those living alone.
On 15 April 2020, a New Scientist article carried the headline: ‘Could the Coronavirus trigger post-viral fatigue syndromes?’*2 It states: “Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome have been linked to viral infections, so it’s possible that the COVID-19 virus may go on to trigger similar conditions.” The article implies that this was the case with previous pandemics: “There are hints from the related SARS virus that this may happen. After the SARS outbreak of 2002 to 2003, some people in Toronto, Canada, who were infected, were recorded as experiencing fatigue, muscle weakness and sleep problems up to three years later.”
The Restoration Convalescence Initiative is designed to assist such individuals. Working through my Health Ministries Department at the British Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Headquarters, I partnered with the One Vision Project (Outreach Charity) in the implementation and roll-out of this initiative. We are also working with Cllr Rabi Martins, who is a Mental Health Champion for Watford and supports individuals in need of counselling. Additionally, the Stanborough Press is supporting this initiative with relevant publications for the ‘wellness bags’ that accompany this project.
I captioned the project ‘RESTORATION Convalescence’ to meet the holistic needs and to address the deficits individuals faced during their recovery. It comprises of the following:
- Daily hot meals
- Weekly shopping
- Relevant publications on varying aspects of holistic well-being
- Counselling support
The project has three aspects – Revive, Renew & Restore. Each of these segments uses different resources to meet physical, emotional, spiritual, relational and social needs in practical ways.
With the assistance of the ‘One Vision’ hub, which is supporting the operational aspect of this project, we are now providing around 230 meals per day to the community.
Along with hot meals and essential shopping items, our publications have also been greatly received. Each week we get positive feedback from people of diverse cultural and faith groups, and from those with no religious beliefs. Many have stated that once our churches reopen, they would like to visit and worship with us! Some are even requesting Bible study literature because of the help they have received from our churches participating in the Restoration Convalescence Project. We rejoice over these positive testimonies, and pray for God’s continued leading in the lives of these individuals in our communities.
There is much we can do on a practical level to bring relief to those suffering in the aftermath of COVID-19. Our churches may have been closed for our regular services, but thankfully, we were not closed to compassion and care, as God through His divine leading, enabled us to reach out in relevant ways to the community. May we continue to be ‘open’ to help in the restoration of lives.
Please pray for the ‘Restoration’ Convalescence project, as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our communities in this time of great need and crisis in our nation.