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Kitui Catholic Diocese gets bishop after three years: The Standard

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Bishop Joseph Mwongela (pictured) will be installed next month as the new head of the Kitui Catholic Diocese, which has not had a substantive bishop for three years.
Since the promotion and transfer of Archbishop Anthony Muheria to the Nyeri Catholic Archdiocese in 2017, Muheria has been the Apostolic Administrator of Kitui Diocese even after taking up his new post.
Bishop Mwongela, 52, is scheduled to be consecrated on August 8 during a ceremony to be held at Saint Charles Lwanga School, his A-Level alma mater on the outskirts of Kitui town. He is currently the Kitui Diocesan Vicar General.
Mwongela was appointed bishop by Pope Francis on March 17 and presented to the priests of the diocese at Kitui’s Our Lady of Africa Cathedral by Muheria on March 22.
This was shortly before religious gatherings were stopped by the Government in sweeping measures to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Muheria was recently appointed to lead the team overseeing the opening of places of worship following the easing of Covid-19-related restrictions.
Mwongela was ordained to the order of diaconate on June 6, 1995 and consequently ordained a priest on July 7, 1996 by the late Archbishop Boniface Lele.
He debuted in his pastoral work in Migwani Parish where he served from November 1996 to July 1997, later moving to Nguni Parish where he remained in the same capacity until February 1998. While at the two parishes, he did part-time teaching at St Joseph’s Seminary in Mwingi where he later taught full time between February and December, 1998.

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The brief teaching experience came in handy for the youthful priest when in January, 1999, he was seconded to St Patrick’s Formation House in Nakuru where he taught seminarians until June 2001.
“I was happy to assist the missionaries who had founded and evangelised our diocese with selflessness and love,” said Mwongela.
He left the country for the first time in the year 2000 for a meeting in Ireland, an outing that was to mark the beginning of several missions overseas that he used to solicit support for his home diocese of Kitui.
On the completion of a tour of duty in Nakuru, he was appointed Kitui Diocesan Executive Secretary and Vocations Director from October 2001 to July 2003 by Lele. “This was a good time to reintegrate myself into the diocese and get experience working with our secretariat staff,” he said.
This was followed by a five-year sojourn in Rome, Italy for post-graduate studies in theology from July 2003 to May 2008 on the strength of a scholarship awarded by St Patrick’s missionaries.
Mwongela says it was an enriching experience that saw him mix with people from all over the world.
“I learnt bits and pieces of their cultures,” he recalled. “While in Rome, I enjoyed helping in different parishes within Italy. I also used to visit Ireland, Germany and USA during the summer for pastoral work and research.”

Mwongela briefly worked as a chaplain at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi on his return to Kenya in 2008 after which he returned to the Kitui Diocese on appointment as Muthale Parish priest in August 2008.
He was stationed there until January 2014 when he was transferred by Muheria to Our Lady of Africa Cathedral.
Born in Kakumi village, Kitui County in 1968, Mwongela had his early education at Kakumi Primary School between 1976 and 1982. He later proceeded to Saint Matthias Mulumba Secondary School where he sat his O-Level exams in 1986.
He taught briefly at Matinyani Township Secondary School and opted to join a seminary to train as a priest instead of going to university. In what has become his vocational motto, he said of his decision to dedicate his life to God’s work thus: “You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced. You have overpowered me. You were the stronger.”
The future bishop studied philosophy at St Augustine’s Seminary in Bungoma between 1990 and 1991. He later proceeded to St Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Nairobi for a Bachelor of Arts in Theology between 1992 and 1995, the year he was ordained a priest.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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