Ebola fears forced women to change venue
Posted Friday, August 10 2012 at 23:30
- PCEA faithful decided to take their gospel mission to a sister church in Tanzania following an outbreak of the deadly disease in Uganda
Members of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Women’s Guild who were involved in a tragic road crash near Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania on Friday morning had planned to travel to Uganda but changed their destination due to fears of the Ebola outbreak.
A senior church official disclosed yesterday that the 84 women from six churches under the Thika parish opted to take their week-long gospel mission to Dar-es-Salaam instead of Kampala following reports of the disease outbreak which has killed 16 people in Western Uganda.
The team drawn from Kiganjo, Kimuchu, Umoja, Emmanuel, Baraka and Happy Valley churches were travelling to a sister church in Dar-es-Salaam in a convoy of two buses.
Thirteen of them were killed and 71 injured when the two buses they were travelling in were involved in an accident on the Tanga- Dar-es-Salaam Highway.
The buses belonged to Primrose Academy and the PCEA Elijah Kagiri School.
The accident occurred hours after the convoy left Thika on Thursday morning.
A trailer reportedly rammed one of the buses as it stopped to help rescue colleagues in the second bus which had been involved in another accident on Mandela Bridge in Chelinze area around 5 a.m.
Some of the victims were trapped in the wreckage for hours amid claims that Tanzanian authorities took too long to respond.
Those who perished had not yet been identified by time of going to press.
The moderator of the Thika Presbytery, The Rev Stephen Wainaina, said that parishioners in the ill-fated buses included officials of the women’s guild and the wives of two Thika municipal council civic leaders.
The Happy Valley parish minister, The Rev Florence Karanja, who was also on the mission, was said to be safe.
President Kibaki ordered the military to evacuate the injured to Nairobi for treatment.
Shortly after, the Kenya Air Force dispatched two aircraft, a Buffalo transport plane and a Dash 8, usually used for VIP transport, to execute the President’s order.
President Kibaki also sent a message of condolence to the families of those who died and wished the injured quick recovery. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta also wished the injured a quick recovery.
Briefing reporters at the parish headquarters in Landless Estate, The Rev Wainaina said initially the women were destined for Uganda on a similar mission but the tour was cancelled following the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola disease in that country.
During an emotional service at the parish headquarters on Friday some of the faithful, overcome by grief, collapsed and had to be assisted by Red Cross volunteers.
“This is such a big blow to the church. We find it hard to accept, but God is still in control and life must continue,” The Rev Wainaina said.