IYHA family and friends,
Working from a home office, not much and yet everything has changed these days. What does working from home look like In Uganda, I wonder? Inquiring minds want to know. Full disclosure. The “dialogue” below didn’t happen as such. It is pieced together from emails and an interview with the IYHA head of staff, Stella Nantege and sprinkled with online research I mined on the situation in Uganda. With apologies to Stella.
How has life in Uganda changed with the first case of COVId-19 (March 22)?
All public gatherings that exceed five people have been stopped including rallies, concerts and schools. All public (and now private) transportation including boda bodas, taxis and buses have also stopped. There is a curfew in place (7 pm to 6 am). We are only allowed to use bicycles or walk where we wish to go. Everyone is wearing a mask. If you move about in town you wash your hands a minimum of ten times. Only the shops that sell food are allowed to open. Only six of 100 markets are open. Everyone is calling on the government for food aid, but only two of the 200 districts have received anything.
Are you able to work?
Everyone’s life is at a standstill. Currently all of our programs are on hold, no school lessons, no training or workshops. Projects have been delayed. We are working from home but without daily interaction it breaks ongoing communication. We received a bonus (emergency food stipend) from IYHA. We are so grateful.
“People have chosen to insist on going to work if they can earn just a little rather than dying of hunger at home.”
Are most Ugandans obeying the President’s directives?
The older generation has embraced the lockdown with ease. Those younger have taken to social networks to spread lies. (The ones I found on social media were that COVID was a foreigner’s disease and could be sexually transmitted). Others are mass exercising. The Ugandan government has responded to those who aren’t obeying with more extreme measures like use of the cane.
How are you feeling?
We try to stay home, wash our hands, eat healthy and no visitors in our homes. Services are hard to access. My baby was sick and I carried him to the health center 4 km away on my back. I did not want to go to a hospital for fear of infection (baby is doing well now – bacterial infection, she got meds from local pharmacy after visit). We are worried for our jobs, too. We realize our United States family and sponsors were hit badly by the virus as well. We continue to hope for the best.
Thank you Stella, for the look into Uganda. I am once again reminded that we are more alike than we are different from here to there. Ok, not enforcement by canes.
A couple of quotes stuck with me in my internet trolling. One was so Uganda I had to share:
From the Ugandan President, “People are talking about convenience, this is war. It is not about convenience anymore, it survival.” For a country with 42 million and 55 ICU beds, it most likely is.
And finally, to end on a more humorous note, from a newspaper: “Dear men, this is the time to strengthen that bond with your wife and children. Wives please don’t make this a quarantine a nagging contest.”
Be well, IYHA community. Whichever the continent upon which you dwell.
Julie King, IYHA Board Member