All schools in Uganda have been closed since March 10th of this year. In addition, all forms of public transportation have also been stopped (buses, taxis, boda bodas). As in the United States, people were sent home and told to work from home. The major difference? Only 5% of homes in Uganda have electricity! And, that impacts the children’s ability to do their school work at home! There has been one recent modification and that is the boda bodas are back in operation BUT with rigid rules: helmets, only one rider per vehicle, face masks and dedicated pick up places (in other words no “roaming” for customers). However, that’s the only exception so far.
On the positive side Uganda has only had 7281 cases and 77 deaths (the death rate being 1% of the total infected cases in a countrywide population of 43,000,000. On the negative side, Uganda does not have anything like unemployment payments or food banks. As a result, our people have no resource for income or food. (I finally realized this in August and asked Geofrey if he would manage the Mbiriizi Food bank and he agreed. I sent $10,000 and told him to put together 1,300 food packets (for all our families and staff) so they would have something. He did a GREAT job as you can see in the picture above.
Now on to Christmas … my sincere thanks to all of you for being so generous. Of course, with the ever-changing environment I am having to make changes. They won’t be having a Christmas party (Those of you that have gone understand that there is no social distancing on the school grounds!) and if given a choice for a new dress and a new shirt or food I think they would opt for food. When I asked Geofrey what should be sent to the children he said they needed new blankets. At the same time, I got a mailing from NorthEast Fleece (the same people from whom we bought blankets last time) with their new blankets that had “hope!” and “faith” imprinted on them. Plus they have a new program which is buy one get one free! PERFECT!
Now the next step. There is no Christmas party and none of us are flying there so we have to get the blankets from here to there! This should be easy BUT it is not. I don’t know anyone that can refer an honest freight forwarder who can GUARANTEE the blankets will get to the school so I have been trying to get DHL to give me a quote. (I know they will get the blankets to the school.) I will not bore you with the trials and tribulations of shipping! Waiting now for a quote! (If you haven’t had a chance to donate for Christmas or for our food bank you still have time!) Just go to the website … www.sylviaschildren.org … click on the donate button and you can use a credit card or PayPal.
OK .. the big question! When can the children go back to school? The government has published a 30-page “book” on rules and regulations. In addition. they have announced that certain grades will go back in mid-October BUT it is so confusing and when I asked Geofrey what it meant he said they were still waiting for a clarification! I think it is only P-7, Secondary School and College/Technical so they can do their tests and move on up. However, I am waiting for a definitive answer.
Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Just imagine if you were in their shoes … no food, no work, no transportation.
And, let’s remember to be grateful for ALL that we have.