Today in Uganda – by Ashaba Arnold

My name is Ashaba Arnold. I am one of the students sponsored by OHU. There is no way I can express my gratitude for the great impact that the OHU family has put on my life. How are you doing everyone during this worldwide pandemic? I hope you are doing better.

For us in Uganda, we are still in lockdown though it has loosened because public and private transport are now operating, but still schools and churches are closed and I think they are to be reopened next year. In Uganda, people have different experiences about this pandemic.

For me, early in March and April life was very fine, but since May started life is worsening each day. I live with my grandparents, who are no longer earning and I don’t know what to expect next because the lockdown is not to be lifted now. I had conversations with different people about their experience about this pandemic and how have they managed to survive.

The first person I spoke to is a single mother who lives in Gayaza Wakiso district. She has a small business dealing in vegetables, fruits and food stuffs. She is my neighbor and has two daughters.  I asked her, how have you been able to survive during the pandemic and what is your experience?

She said, “To be honest my life has totally changed and it has changed not in the positive way but in the negative way. Before this Covid 19 saga I was living a happy life. Not that I was rich, but I was happy with my two daughters giving them whatever they wanted paying them school fees even though I am a single mother. Before this saga my business could provide all the support to my family but ever since it started I have reached a point of missing some meals. Even and when the situation worsened, I had to take my kids to the village to stay with their grandparents, where by we even walked over 20 kms because public transport was no longer operating and I had no other option apart from shifting them to the village. Then, l returned to the town and started starving alone, apparently we are working since the markets resumed but it is not the work as it was before. But all in all, I believe that it has been God, who has enabled me to survive throughout this saga because even my landlord, who normally asks from me the rent for three months, she is not even putting pressure on me.”

The second person I happened to have conversation with is my former geography teacher, who lives in Kiboga town. I asked about his experience and how he is managing to survive through this pandemic.  He responded, “Rather unfairly but we are still maneuvering.”

“What you must know is that however much a teacher is paid, as long as it doesn’t come at known and agreed times, there’s still a problem. I for one last got paid in February, so unless one has another source of income, life of course has to be tough. Some colleagues don’t even want to teach again, even if the lockdown is lifted because we’ve just realized it’s no job to rely on in addition to the problems we already have. In summary, a teacher who entirely depends on teaching, is starving and has a lot of debts now.”