Rwanda: Places of Worship Turn to Tech to Enhance Safety

Several places of worship across the country have come up with innovative ways to help observe Covid-19 preventive measures set by the government.

While giving a green light to places of worship in mid-July after four months of closure, which was part of the effort to contain Covid-19, the government also introduced guidelines to be followed.

These measures include maintaining physical distance among worshippers, having hand sanitizers, infrared thermometers and measures to uphold the use of face masks among others.

Also, the number of congregants is very restricted to avoid overcrowding.

On this note, some places of worship embraced technology to observe the set maximum number of attendants.

Foursquare Gospel Church located in Kimironko Sector, Gasabo district is an example.

"Since last Sunday, we are using a Google Form link that we send to our WhatsApp platforms and people register depending on the church service they wish to attend among the three we have so far," Bishop Fidele Masengo who leads the church told The New Times on Thursday, July 30.

This, he explains, helps us to avoid overcrowding, because there is a set number of attendants that reaches and registration is no longer possible.

He added that when a person is registered, he or she gets a code that he shows at the entrance and they can easily know his contacts with no need to register on paper before entering.

Bethesda Holy Church's Senior Pastor, Albert Rugamba, also noted that they are in the process of using a digital method for booking seats in bid to avoid overcrowding- a haven for Covid-19 spread.

"So far, we are only communicating to our church group leaders to know those that will attend and the services they wish to be part of," he says.

"We are in touch with our IT team to see how we can come up with a more improved and efficient digital way of registering attendants before the day of worship."

Bridging the technology gap

According to Masengo, church attendants without smart phones have also been acknowledged.

"We have a book where all our members are registered, and we call those that we know that they have no smart phones to know which service they wish to attend," he said.

He also noted that, depending on the service, we make sure that we leave few seats for visitors who may pass by without being aware of the formal registration process.

Digital means of giving offerings

Sheikh Hashimu Harerimana, the Imam (a person who leader of a mosque) of Musanze District, also told this Paper that technology is being used while giving offerings known as Sadaqat in Islam.

"In bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that may happen while exchanging cash, the only way being used by congregants to give Sadaqat is mobile money and bank accounts," he said.

So far, only few places of worship have been allowed to reopen, however, many of them are still streaming live services and some send audio sermons on WhatsApp platforms as they are in process of implementing set guidelines to be given the right to open doors.

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