Have you felt a moment when the words fail you on how to express yourself, especially when a serious situation unexpectedly hits you, and imposes a different lifestyle on your community? As it probably did to other institutions of higher learning globally, here at Friends Theological College (FTC), the novel COVID-19 really impinged on our academic programs and left us in the lurch. Campus is literally quiet. The only place on campus with vivacity, oblivious of the pandemic conundrum against humanity is the nascent Dr. Wafula Park for Recreation, Meditation, and Solitude. After spending my morning hours watching depressing COVID-19 news updates on TV I decided to take a transect walk from my house to the dining hall through the park. I was timing the 10 o’clock tea with our grounds staff on Wednesday April 1.
As I walked through the park, I sensed an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. I heard weaver birds singing, saw a grey tailed manakin sucking nectar from a beautiful hibiscus as the black and white hornbill flapped her giant wings and perched on branches of an indigenous tree above my head. Then I realized that this was the best place I could spend the rest of my afternoon. After tea with staff in the dining hall, I walked back to the house, put my black book bag on my shoulders and grabbed the sling of my Canon camera bag. Mwalimu and Little Professor (my two, 8 and 6-year-old grandchildren respectively) asked me, “Where are you going Kuka (Luhya name for grandfather)?” then I said, “To the park. I am going to the park to read and relax.” Little Professor was somewhat curious, “Are there monkeys in the park, Kuka?”And Mwalimu opened his big eyes and looked at me. “Well, not really,” I replied. “The park is still young for the monkeys to come over there, but you never know…” Phillip, one of our staff helped to carry a table as we each grabbed a sky blue plastic chair from the dining hall and my grandkids and I had the best of our moments that afternoon in the park.
News about Coronavirus from the media hit us at a time when our residential students were gearing up for their one month recess to give way for the modular program students to come in for their April 2020 module. We dismissed our residential students on March 20 following the government’s directive to close all educational and social institutions. We have requested all non-essential staff and faculty to work from home until further notice. As stated above, we were supposed to have modular students back to campus on March 29, 2020, but as the crisis still looms, it is apparent that we might postpone the entire 2020 April module until August.
FTC programs operate on fee collections from students, but as of now, we are standing with staring eyes like a deer in the spotlight. Please pray with us for God’s providence so that we are able to meet staff salaries and other needs for the next four months – April, May, June, and July. As of the time I am writing to you this message, we are yet to hear any COVID-19 related cases involving the FTC community members except for our two international students from Rwanda, who were mandatorily quarantined for 14 days by the Rwandese government after checking in at the border on March 23. The last time I called they told me they were doing ok waiting for testing to determine their status. We are regularly calling and checking on each other and trying to keep the health rules as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Here at FTC, COVID-19 caught us unaware or I should put it this way, it hit us below the belt. Why? Because we were not prepared with an option “B” mode of learning in our academic programs. We only operate on one mode of learning — Face-to-Face lecturers. Since we recently have somewhat reliable internet, we are seriously thinking and praying about launching the online teaching mode. Online learning would be a huge step forward for FTC, not only during this COVID-19 lockdown but for the future. As I travel around in our yearly meetings, I often encounter expressions such as, “due to the nature of my job, it can’t allow me to physically come to class, but it would be of more convenience for me to do my courses online.” Of course, many of our prospective students go away disappointed to hear that we do not provide online services. With reliable internet service, running an online program alongside the traditional face-to-face will be a great impetus to increase student enrollment in all of our satellite campuses. Please pray for us that this dream is achieved.
Peace to you Friends,
Dr. Robert J. Wafula
Tel. +254 734 728564
Prayer and Praise
- Praise: Thanks to God for we have not heard any Covid-19 cases involving members of the FTC community so far. We are in constant communication with faculty and staff and their families.
- Prayer Request: Please pray that this Covid-19 ends and life goes back to normal, although it will not be really normal..