Dear OHU Sponsors and Supporters:
We’ve been in frequent contact with our program coordinator, Fr. Matthias, and various students in recent days via WhatsApp and through phone calls. The situation in Uganda is developing in a similar way to what we have seen around the world. As of March 26, they reported 14 confirmed cases in various areas around the country, with the first positive diagnosis in Entebbe last Friday. They don’t have reliable healthcare, so testing is limited and actual case numbers are in question.
Here are some confirmed facts:
- All schools (elementary, secondary and universities) closed at the end of last week.
- All public transportation is banned – boda bodas (motorcycles) are only allowed to carry goods and no passengers.
- Religious services and public gatherings are banned.
- All students are now home with their families; boarding school is closed.
Many people in Uganda live day-to-day and if they cannot travel to go to work – they don’t make money and they don’t eat. The transportation ban also means the sick cannot access hospitals. Families, who rely on boarding schools to feed their sons and daughters, now find their children at home without enough food for everyone. The silver lining is that it is currently the rainy season, so water is more plentiful. Fr. Matthias shared that although they know it is the right thing to do – people fear the government stopping them from moving will kill them faster than the virus.
So, what can we do in the face of this challenge?
The OHU Board has decided to take action to provide some relief. We are allocating second trimester tuition funds direct to families to help provide the basic necessities to keep them strong and hopefully healthy, while school sessions have been cancelled. We will similarly provide a stipend to our Hand Up university students. Because many Ugandans access money through their cellular phones, Fr. Matthias can distribute funds via the mobile money system without having to personally travel to visit families.
We feel these extraordinary times demand a response out of our typical allocation of funds. If for any reason you prefer that your tuition scholarship dollars be used specifically for future education funds, please let us know and we’ll act accordingly. Our hope is to keep our students strong through the pandemic, so they may return to their studies, as soon as possible.
We will continue to update you on how COVID-19 is impacting Uganda. We ask that you keep our Uganda family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to donate additional funds, we will be happy to wire all donations made online over the next month to the Hand Up Fund (https://oneheartuganda.org/donate/) directly to Fr. Matthias for distribution and aid to our students and his community. Please share our message with your friends and network.