COVID-19 in Ivory Coast: ‘We want to see this through here!’
As they listened to the news and stories from their families in the U.S., Ian and Kristin Isely knew that the virus would soon be coming to their ministry area in Ivory Coast. But when the airports closed, they figured that they would have to ride it out in their little town of Abengourou.
“But then, the U.S. Embassy offered an evacuation flight for citizens who wanted to go back to the States,” she said. “In what were honestly some of the most anxiety-ridden days of my life, we prayed and thought very seriously about taking the flight, but decided we wanted to see this though here. Since making this decision, we have had immense peace.”
Thanks to the advance warning, the Iselys were able to prepare for the pandemic in the best possible ways.
“Ian and our teammate Ben Devenney went to the city to stock up on food for our families and supplies for the maternity and medical clinic before our city was hit by the virus and cut off from the rest of the country,” said Kristin. “So, our clinic has supplies and we have enough food and water at our house to last us at least a month.
If the virus takes over in Ivory Coast as it has in the U.S., it will be devastating, Kristin said.
“Most people don’t have the option to go into their houses and close the door because their houses are set up in a way where multiple families share a common outdoor space that they use to cook, clean and wash up,” she said. “They also don’t have access to refrigeration, so they have to go to the market to get what they need daily. This will allow the virus to spread rapidly through our community. We also lack the medical equipment necessary to treat patients with COVID-19. We have been told that there are only two bottles of oxygen in our whole town of Abengourou.”
Meanwhile, the Iselys have decided to take it two weeks at a time and stay in their house as much as possible.
“We use our time to counsel leaders in finding creative ways to stay in touch with people they minister to, by having local tailors make masks to give to people in the clinic and our sponsorship children, and by trying our best to be a calming presence in a time when people are very afraid,” said Kristin.
“We also pray for our national friends, that they would understand what this virus is, take it seriously, and understand how to best prevent the spread of it,” she added. “And we pray for you in the U.S., that you would find ways to rest as we do, in the small joys we can find in moments with our family, through video chats with friends, and in the quiet that we are learning to embrace.”