Pandemic lockdown continues

Because Abwanget is so close to the border with Kenya, which has a larger number of COVID cases than Uganda, the lockdown and curfew continues. Schools are still closed, and many teachers haven’t been paid since February. The government is conducting school lessons over the radio, but that can be a problem in the rural villages, where homes seldom have electricity. Once the batteries die, so does the radio!

People are still struggling to meet basic needs during the lockdown. Many children have been forced to help their families by selling items on the streets while their parents tend the family gardens and fields. The area has had much rain, at times too much, destroying many roads, houses, and gardens. Denis has been keeping young men busy by making bricks with the mud left from the rainstorms.

Making bricks after a rainstorm

The pandemic has made life more difficult for the people of Uganda. Please continue to donate so that we can help put people back to work, allowing them to earn an income and feed their families.

Photo by Denis Okiru

Life during the pandemic

Life has been different for the past six weeks. Work at the library in Uganda has stopped as people shelter in place. Uganda has some of the strictest restrictions on movement in the world. No public or private transportation is allowed, so even trips to the grocery store are made on foot. With markets and most businesses closed for weeks now, it has been next to impossible for people to earn income. People are running out of food and money. The number of COVID cases in Uganda is relatively small, but easing restrictions could lead to more COVID cases in a country whose healthcare system could easily become overwhelmed.

Denis’ community is doing its part to slow down the spread of the disease. Most homes do not have running water, so the community has set up a handwashing station with soap for villagers to use. They are also staying home as much as possible and like everywhere else around the world, trying to keep their children entertained. The government has been delivering school lessons via television and radio, but this is a challenge in Denis’ village since most homes have no electricity or TV. Radios use dry cells, so once the batteries run out, the radios die. Our future plans for the community center and library include setting up solar panels so that the villagers can have access to information through computers.

Uganda has had a lot of rain this spring, so without the roofing panels installed, the foundation of the building got wet. Now that the rains have subsided, the building is drying out. Our goal is to have the roofing panels installed as soon as the lockdown ends so that the rains will not permanently damage the building. Please donate if you can. Times are difficult for many people right now, but others of us are fortunate to still have our jobs and to be able to work remotely. Many of us have been able to continue feeding our families and have stayed safe and healthy. Donating funds now will allow Denis to finish purchasing the iron sheets for the roof and will help put villagers to work once the lockdown ends, allowing them to earn income to feed their families once again. – DC

COVID-19 pandemic

How things have changed over the past couple of weeks! Uganda is in a very precarious place right now. President Museveni has implemented tight restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Uganda’s healthcare system is not equipped for this pandemic. There are only 55 ICU beds in the entire country. That means 55 ventilators for a population of over 44 million!

Most people do not have access to clean water in their homes. There’s not enough hand sanitizer to go around. Denis has said that people are scared. They know that fighting off the contagious and aggressive virus will be difficult if a large outbreak occurs. To add misery to the fear, torrential rains have ruined many crops. And just today, people began looting in Kampala, the capital. Many people live day-to-day, and some families are already worried about food shortages as businesses and retail stores shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. Public transportation has also been shut down; most people do not own vehicles but rely on bodas (motorcycle taxis) to get around. Because so much business has been shut down, people are already struggling to earn an income. If the tight restrictions continue, people will run out of food and money very quickly. Denis has requested your prayers for the people of his country. He also foresees food shortages for many families whose crops have been ruined.

Some positive stories from the past several weeks: Women in the village get together every Thursday to consolidate their money and make loans to each other . The women’s cooperative is named “Aimoro Ichani,” which means “Sharing poverty.” They are currently saving money to purchase piglets for everyone in the group.

The women of Tororo celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. Female students marched in their school uniforms and the women of the district wore their best dresses for the celebration.

In the book “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates discusses the transformations that can happen in society when we empower women. Our hope is that the community center and library will hold programs to empower women and serve as a gathering place to lift up women and children, which in turn will improve the future of everyone in the community. – DC