'Uphold each other in Love'

Article by Sr M. Sithumini Fernando,
Province of Sri Lanka/Pakistan.

The Covid-19 pandemic, unlike other viruses, has had disastrous effects on the whole world. We are all aware that frontline medical professionals do their best to protect people. This critical situation urged some of our sisters to volunteer their generous services to save the lives of the sisters, children and adults in our institutions, putting themselves at risk.  

Here I would like to share the journey we have embarked on in caring for the Covid positive patients in our Province.

The visiting physician to our elderly sisters, Dr Raphael Fernando, sounded the alarm of the impending pandemic crisis and motivated the sisters to be prepared to face the challenge with hope and courage. It was his idea that paved the way to have a separate place for the Good Shepherd Sisters to care for our Covid positive patients. It was no easy task. So many unfamiliar, unexpected realities had to be handled:  finding a suitable place, finance, providing facilities, training nurses and caregivers, handling fears and anxiety, etc.

The moment the Province Leadership Team made this proposal, many sisters in the Province offered their services to navigate the project with passion, courage and generosity. Each person contributed to this massive task in big and small ways. During the 2nd and 3rd waves of the pandemic the country was in crisis and, as a province, we too were affected by the pandemic. The building adjoining the 'Serene Pastures' Retreat House in Bolawalana (right) was officially dedicated to this service on August 6, 2021. It was a little effort because the house could accommodate only four patients. But by August 23, the number of patients kept increasing, and we had to occupy the whole 'Serene Pastures' building.

The next step was the registration with the Ministry of Health. On August 25, we succeeded in getting it approved, and the house was named the 'Intermediate Covid Centre for the Good Shepherd, Sri Lanka'. Nearly twenty sisters were treated at the center in Bolawalana. Medical support from this center branched out also to other places like Child Development Centers and Elderly Homes, which were affected by the pandemic. We also received the necessary assistance from the Health Care Ministry to uplift the lives of our loved participants in the mission.

As St. Euphrasia rightfully said: "Uphold each other in Love"; at times, we were able to be doctors, nurses, mothers, sisters and friends to our sisters by assuring them that we are one family, and they are precious to us.

Words of gratitude from the sisters who received treatment at the center in Bolawalana:  

"The decisions you made and your quick responses at this time were a great support to us".

"I was vulnerable during my sickness, but your love, concern, care, thoughtfulness, and your words of consolation strengthened me. It is only because of all of you I recovered soon. Within this isolation, I felt connected".  

"Thank you so much for every act you did for us. Words are insufficient to thank you for the incredible service you rendered".

"Your dedicated service shows how loving you are. I appreciate your help and concern towards us".