Four months ago, if you were to walk down a typical street in Uganda, you would see and experience such a vibrancy of life and culture. You would smell the smoke from roasting fish and chicken from the little charcoal fire stove where a man in his mid-twenties was cooking up street food to sell to those passing by. You would feel the air suddenly whip past you as a young man driving a motorcycle taxi swept past you carrying a mother and her 2 children on their way to the market. If you were to pass by one of the open markets, you would see and smell all of the fresh fruits and vegetables with the most vibrant of colors that you could ever imagine. The neighborhoods, both more affluent and the slums, would have thin columns of smoke curling up into the air at mealtimes from fires that were roasting meats or boiling water for rice and beans. Laughter and jubilant music would ring out, soccer balls made from bundled up plastic bound with string would be kicked and life would go on.
On March 26th, Ugandan President Museveni ordered the country to be locked down as the threat of COVID-19 became an African reality along with the every day hunger, Malaria, and Typhoid. For Americans, the order made sense. We have the ability to eat for more than one day at a time with what we have in our refrigerators or pantries. Not Ugandans. All non-essential businesses were closed. People on the streets selling food and other odds and ends to survive were forced off of the streets. Military police with guns that they barely knew how to use suddenly swarmed the streets and would beat or shoot any offenders who did not obey their commands. All transportation was shut down. The smoke from the cooking fires no longer curled in the air of the neighborhoods because after a day, the food was gone. Babies cried. Children groaned from hunger pains now worse than they usually were. Malaria coursing through the veins of thousands of people now went unchecked because they could not afford to get to a clinic nor get transportation to get their weak and dying bodies there before it was too late.
A False Sense of Hope
It was rumored that after a month of being locked down and neighbors, friends, and family now dying or extremely sick with disease and hunger that Museveni might relax the strict quarantine laws. With bated breath and sweaty palms, those who could tuned into the radio or televisions on May 4th anticipating the good news that people could go back to work and safe their families from starvation with their meager incomes. A cold and harsh reality set in when towards the end of his 30 minutes of talking Museveni stated that there would be 2 more weeks of extreme lock down. BUT WHY? The nation of Uganda has had less than 100 known cases of COVID-19 with 0 deaths! Nobody understands, but the fear of being shot or beaten on the streets or sent to jail keeps Ugandans in their homes. Fear reigns and hunger prevails.
Uganda NOW Outreach’s Response
When the lock down began on March 26th, we knew that we must respond and respond quickly. We released emergency funds to our UNO contact in Kampala *and our UNO contact* in a rural and needy village. The purpose of these emergency funds was to feed the hungry. It is now illegal in Uganda to feed the poor, with those who are caught doing this being charged with murder because COVID-19 could spread. The reality is that far more people will die of starvation than this virus.
In Kampala, our UNO Contact* and team are working tirelessly and brainstorming ways as to how they can reach out to their surrounding community in a neighboring slum. They have sent thousands of dollars of personal funds to help friends and their families survive this extreme hardship. With funds sent from UNO, they have bought thousands of pounds of beans and rice and have secretly passed them out to the poor wrapped packages of the love and comfort of Christ.
THIS SITUATION IS URGENT AND LIFE THREATENING.
Here is how you can make an impact: join us as we send emergency aid to relieve the hunger of hundreds of desperate people as they face another extension of the lock down. Click the link HERE to become apart of this amazing endeavor as we touch the lives of many people in Uganda.
*Specific names have been left out due for the safety of those involved and the sensitive nature of their work