THE STING OF MY WRATH

I crept in,
Crept in like a thief in the night.
Many unaware,
I left in despair.

With no regard for mankind,
I swept across nations.
The tides could not break me;
The oceans were not a stumbling block.

Ravaging across continents,
From Asia to Africa,
Young and old I devoured,
Poor and rich, I spared not.

I dispersed fear everywhere,
With a smirk on my face,
I looked on,
As the media chanted my name.

Yes, I am tremendously powerful,
I shut down borders,
I closed schools,
I made prisoners of families.

I am unsympathetic.
That young man’s plight does not move me.
He thought his business was picking up,
Only for me to smack him hard in the face.

That young woman,
Could not escape my wrath too.
With a huge grin,
I squandered all her life savings.

You might cry all you want,
Throw all kinds of tantrums,
But unless you unite and help each other,
The effects of my wrath will be devastating.

I thrive in disunity,
Selfishness and greed are my fertile ground,
Corruption is my best friend,
I am COVID 19 and I sign out.

By LABAK. JANET

Corona

Corona yajja tetweteegese.

Yakonkona akyali Wuhan, ne sibifaako.

Kati ekiddako sikitegeera.

Abalwadde okweyongera kimmalamu amaanyi.

Okumala emyezi nga twekuumye

Ate oluvannyuma ne twanika mu ttaka.

 

Eka watandise n’okuntama.

Emmere ngiridde enziggwako

Ate siyingiza kuba sikyakola.

Ndi mutontomi.

Ezange ziva mu bivvulu na butabo.

Byonna byesiba, omuggalo bwe gwaluma.

Ani agula akatabo nga alumwa enjala?

 

Obulwa ne gw’osaba nga buli

Gw’omanyi ali ku mavviivi.

Obwavu bunjokya, bungoya.

Njoya kimu kuddamu ssuubi.

Mpawamuka ne mu matumbi

Nga nnebuuza ebirooto kye bingasa.

Nkyayiiya, nkyawandiika.

 

Naye ennaku ezimu obunafu bumpasa.

Omwaka nga ngulaba gudduka.

Ebidduka ku makubo bizeeko

Wabula ntya n’okutambula.

Anti bangi masiki tebalina.

Akawuka bwe nkatomera!

Tetumanyi kugondera matteeka.

Paka nga embooko zitutuuse ku migongo.

Abakuumaddembe nabo basukka!

 

Buli kimu ebyasi ne bivaawo!

Tubula kubekweka mu bikunta.

Bwe tubalabako mu bitundu byaffe.

Obutabanguko mu maka…

Kutemagana mbale, kwawukana.

Osaasira abaana mu eno embeera.

Abamu basuulibwawo, ne babulwa alabirira.

Akawunga abakeetaaga baakafuna?

 

Kibi abakulembeze bwe beerowoozaako bokka

Songa be bafuga balina kusooka kukkuta.

Abato bayize n’emize egy’okweyimbamu emigwa.

Gavumenti yandifudde nnyo ku by’obulamu.

Si kulinda bigwa bitalaze ne tupapa.

Abasawo baweebwe emisaala egibagyamu.

N’ebikozesebwa tufube bibengawo.

Mu bibuga n’ewala eyo mu byalo.

 

Okunaaba mu ngalo kikolwa kyangu.

Ddala lwaki oba olinda okukugamba?

Abakadde tubayambe n’ebikozesebwa

N’obulwadde tubukuumire wala okuva gye bali

Anti emibiri gyaabwe gikosebwa nnyo.

Emisolo gy’omutimbagano giremesa nkumu.

Giyimirizibwe obubaka abantu bubatuukeeko.

Amawulire amafu!

Abagasaasaanya mbasaba mweddeko.

Muwabya n’okukubya bannamwe emitima

Ebitaliiko mitwe na magulu mubijja wa?

Zo ensimbi ezasoloozebwa zadda wa?

 

Abanoonyereza ku ddagala mwe mwebale

Osanga mulituwonya ekibambulira.

Tubeere beegendereza eyo gye tutambulira

Okuliranaagana n’okugwa bannaffe mu bifuba

Tulibiddamu nga obulwadde bukendedde.

Tonsemberera gwe mubala ogutugatta.

Tugoberere ebiragiro Corona aleme kututta.

Ssebo Lule

AN OPEN LETTER TO CORONAVIRUS

By Gareeba Johnmark 

To you who are earnestly committed to dismantling our nation into a dilapidated place to live; one we can dread to set a foot on, woe into you! I will not blame you for the perils of the miserable life of Ugandans, I will not blame you for the molestation, I will not blame you for the severe crisis we are facing, I will only blame you for the lives you have stolen and your overstay in the land you are not welcome.  I will blame you for corrupting the minds of the decision-makers, from whose stingy hands, our bread comes.

Mr. Corona, at first we thought you were a mere plague that would hit and run. We thought you were an ogre claiming lives just as your predecessors not limited to HIV/AIDS and Cancer.  They came to this land, glorified themselves, but regardless of their horrible terror, they still had learned not to exceed their boundaries.

You came just like one of them. A scary monster that was blown by the west wind. Unlike your predecessors, you threatened the whole globe that soon declared you a pandemic. For the fear we had at first, you locked us down in the comfort of our homes with hopes that we shall soon vanquish.  You introduced your infamous quarantine and curfew; words which were rarely used by our people. We obeyed all your ridiculous orders like sacrificial lambs. We thought you were a disastrous killer disease, but have proven to be too weak to kill even a fly in Uganda. Some thought you were the parasite meant to suck blood from wells you did not dig but you seem not so much interested in only blood. Your intention is not clear yet. Some people claim you are a bacteria, others know you as a virus. The fundamental questions we have remained with are: Who exactly are you? And what is your purpose on earth?

If you are a killer disease as you have made us believe, why then have you failed to claim a quarter of the lives in your possession? In Uganda, not a life have we lost! You seem to have failed on the mission that primarily brought you here. Because of your failure on your killing mission, we are tempted to believe that you have turned the battle to the economy of our country. You seem to have successfully caused what we call economic and trade wars.

Just as your father the devil, you have mastered the art of corruption and deceit. You corrupt those in power to fulfill your selfish interests. You have made the leaders to deliberately prolong the lockdown well knowing that the economy will be in shambles. Schools, churches, businesses, and all gathering places are still closed under the disguise that you shall kill us. Where is your strength?

However, I would be failing in my duty if I did not bring to your attention that Uganda is upheld by God. We shall not accept to be robbed of our dignity. We have been taught that the wealth of the nation comes from the sweat and blood of the workers. Those in the markets with stalls, in the lake and rivers fishing, those hawking goods, those in garages, those at the wheel of a taxis and boda boda, those in arcades and malls, those in schools and higher institutions of learning, those who use their talents to sing, those who watch and play soccer and other games, those who vend tomatoes on streets of Kampala, all create the wealth of the nation. These are the men you have locked down so that they can solely rely on grants and donations from abroad. You have made them rely on food provided by the generous leaders whose hands are full of corrupt mercies.

Because you have successfully managed to quarantine us, you have made a few individuals to know the sources of the wealth of the nation well enough. They know where they can drink water that they have not gone to fetch. They know where they can dam the water so that it doesn’t reach people downstream. They know where they can dig canals to divert the river so that it can only water their fertile fields. They have the power to look at the other options of lifting the lockdown but are busy minding grabbing what belongs to the community. I believe that this pandemic is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. History will judge each according to how you have used them. I would rather, if you are simply a monster disease, why cease our economy? Who is taking advantage of the other? Should we say decision-makers are using you? Or you are taking advantage of their wicked borrowed souls? Who is who?

Mr. Corona, you have invented a war that is not fought by guns and bombs, but rather injections. Not soldiers and robots but doctors, and the battlefields have been the bodies of innocent men. So what is left of us?

Mr. Corona, you have overstayed your visit. You have exaggerated the quarantine, curfew and lockdown. You have made us poor enough and we can’t stay with you anymore. You have oppressed the people long enough and tried to exhibit your strength with tenacious force.  We still know our rights Mr. Corona and we shall fight for our Godly given rights. We shall not wait for you to suck the last drop of our blood while we watch on.

We have waited long enough for months without any positive results. It’s okay for some people who have never seen the dark days of sleeping on an empty stomach because there’s no food in the house and you are sure it’s the same story the following day all in names of lockdown and curfew. You don’t know what it feels when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your four-year-old daughter why she takes one meal of posho and beans in a day for four months, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that she can’t afford a decent meal, and see ominous clouds of fear and pessimism beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward decision-makers; when you pass at a private school teacher who has not earned any salary for four months and his family of six is demanding what to eat and he’s about to commit suicide, you realize corona has overstayed his visit.

I want to say to you corona; it’s clear and evident that if you keep us under these oppressive measures, we shall fight hard to seek our justice. You can’t threaten our health and economy at ago. We shall seek accountability from leaders you have corrupted. Our cup of patience has run over and we can’t keep waiting. We and the incorrupt leaders shall stand to see you out of this country. We shall fight with our bodies and minds and drive you out of this country. We are tired of you and the people you are harmoniously working with to channel rivers from reaching those downstream.

We shall raise our hands in unison to defy your oppressive orders. We must be allowed to work freely with normal conditions. You must let us go or else, like Pharaoh, you and your allies shall drown in the Red sea while pursuing those who are seeking justice. No freedom has ever been given freely by oppressors. We shall fight for our rights!  God says, release his people now to earn a living. Their innocent blood and cries have reached the heavens and God is ready to rescue them.

In case you need another reminder, we are a nation of God. The Royal priesthood. The ones fearfully and wonderfully made! God is on our side to see us through your pungs of venom. And we have already overcome!

Twitter: @GareebaJm

LOCKDOWN NIGHTMARE

By  Gloria Nakazzi

This year started on a beautiful note. After very many interviews and trainings in March, MTN UG hired me as a trade development representative. The job was well paying and with that money, I hoped to change my life for the better.  That did not last a minute! No sooner had I got my glamorous job than COVID-19 struck. I did not spend 2 months on the job before the contract was terminated because of the pandemic. I thought I was going to die the moment I read that email; my heart sunk. There would not have been a worse time for me to be jobless. I needed the money so badly!

I live with my mother, big sister, and two younger brothers. The lockdown found our mother upcountry; so, she could not come home for months. I was the only one earning at home. My big sister had left her job because she had a difficult pregnancy. Our life became a nightmare in a very short time. We ran out of food to eat and started anxiously waiting for government’s relief food – posho and beans – that never arrived. Some days we could go on for a day without a single meal.

To make matters worse, my sister, who before the pandemic got her antenatal care from Nsambya Hospital, now had to seek health care from a nearby home clinic because there was no transportation to the hospital. One day she experienced false labor pains and we rushed her to the Local Chairman One (LC1) to get a letter that would permit us to go to Nsambya hospital. We got to the LC1’s office when my sister’s pain had subsided and this did not convince him enough, telling us to return after 3 days. Was he a doctor? What does he know about women in labor? We pleaded in vain and went back home.

That night, around 2:00 am, my sister went into labor. I will never forget this night. My younger brothers will not forget the horror either. We shouted for help, but no one would dare leave their houses or the Local Defense Unit (LDU) men would beat them up as was the case elsewhere. I had to go and call the nurse at the nearby home clinic and at this point, I was ready to be flogged or shot dead because I to save my sister. Luckily, the road was clear. I came home with the nurse but found my sister trying to give birth by herself with the help of my brothers. The baby’s head was out, the floor was a mess. I had never seen anything so disturbing. Unfortunately, my sister had a stillbirth. The baby got so tired during the labor delays and the panic.

To this day she has not healed from the trauma. She is depressed and stays in her bed all day. Our lives, our once happy home, has become a sad place for all of us. Mother came back but she blames herself for what happened to her daughter. We have become penniless and still see no way out of this.

To better understand all dimensions of the COVID _19 responses, the government should consult women and young girl leaders at all levels during the full cycle of mitigation to effectively address all health issues in communities. People should be able to access all health facilities always of the day and night. HEALTH CANNOT WAIT! Additionally, supplies given to the public like food must be evenly distributed and made available at the grass-root levels.

More about the Author:

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Adult and Community Education in 2018 from Makerere University. I am an activist and have a deep passion for causing dynamic change in my society, that’s why I joined an NGO called Building Tomorrow immediately after campus because it’s all about helping develop the education system of children in rural areas.

 

Ssozi Arthur Grace - 19 years old

Ssozi Arthur Grace – 19 years old, using this carton illustration asks, ‘Is E-Commerce possible?’

LEERO

Leero ennaku z’omwezi

zezo zennyini.

Essawa zezo

nga bwetwali tuzibaze.

Ekifo ssi ky’ekyo

kyetulina okubeeramu,

Kyetulina okubeera mukiggale!

Ssinga kati tuli mu ketalo.

Ssinga ebipande buli wamu

nga munyera bibunye.

Amasimu ssinga kati

gavugira kumu.

Endagiriro ssinga kati zitandise.

Ebyuma ssinga kati biri ku

“mic check 1, 2”

Ebitontome ssinga tulimu ku biyisamu,

Essala abazisaba ssinga batandise,

“Katond atuyambe,

Enkuba tetonnya,

Jam abeere mutono,

Bonna betwayise baje,

Eno show twagala ekwateyo,

Bambituyambebaguleticket.”

Ebyali ebilubilirwa twabivako

twasigala kusaba bulamu.

Ebitontome tubiwandise

engalo kubula kukutuka.

“Show”zetwali twesunze,

“Omudidi”gwetwali twesunze okuyoola!

Ennaku!

Ennakuelumangaensawo

mw’oja tolina ky’ozzamu.

Ennaku elumanga ebifo

wewakoleranga obiyitako

biriko makufulu.

Ennaku elumanga mubutuufu

tomanyi oba embeera eriterera.

Ennaku eluma nga bwebogera ku ba

“essentialworker”erinnyalyo terisomebwa,

Naye nga bwebagamba

abantu okwewala “stress”,

Babalagira Kiwuliriza nnyimba.

Babalagira kulaba ffirimu.

Babalagira kusoma butabo nabitontome,

Ssinga tebyaliwo balikoze batya?

Ssentezagalwa

n’obulamu bwagalwa.

Naye obulamu bwebutandika

okusaba ssente nga naye ssente tozilaba,

Olwo obulamu bubeera tebugenze kuggwawo?

Abakuŋŋana nga netutesa,

tetukyasobola.

Abawandikanga ebitontome

nga tusaba gavumenti ekyusemunkola,

Kati naffe tusaba gavumenti etuyambe!

Leero ennakuz’omwezi

zezo zennyini.

Essawa zezo nga bwetwali tuzibaze,

Wabula nneyogezanzekka.

©NSUBUGAMUHAMMED(Nze)

Psalms 23 part 111

By Cynthia Zalwango

Quarantine is my shepherd, I shall not want

It maketh me to lie down at home with stocked food

It restoreth me with a new honeymoon now my husband is home daily

Yea though I walk through the empty streets of the city, I will fear no virus

For social distancing will be my sword and thy directives keep me safe

Thou taketh away my enemies, for we are now equal

Thou bringeth LDU guards to prevent me from moving at seven o’clock

Thou anointest my hand with sanitizers, and my pot is filled with government food

Surely coughing and sneezing shall get behind me all the days of my life.

And I shall adhere to the presidential directives all the days of quarantine.

AN UNCOMMON GRACE

By Paddy Malinga

Friday, March 22nd, 2020 is indelibly engraved on my life’s memory lane for it was when all educational institutions were closed abruptly and preceded Uganda’s lockdown, quarantine, and curfew presidential initiatives in the fight against the novel COVID-19 virus and many other directives that were sequentially heaped upon with time. All students were sent home to control the spread by minimizing contacts and life at home, at first, was good with the assumption that only in a months’ time and probably a few days, the norm would be restored. Far from it, it was a never-ending nightmare that got worse and worse as the lockdown extension became routine and more stringent directives put in place and any easing was beyond a dream as cases were increasing each passing day.

At home, I stay with my mum and my other 3 siblings, one girl in the family. She had just joined A level and mum got a loan to pay for her entrance. She had missed a week due to the fees that were not available. Mum by lockdown had paid just a bit to the friend that lent her the one million. Mum had stocked food for a month, bag of rice and posho plus beans but now it was beyond a month and food had gotten done.

She had asked from our neighbor a few kgs of posho as she awaited her salary but unfortunately, the friend that lent her money for my sister demanded full payment of the loan to which my mum succumbed and paid with all her salary and supplement from her SACCO. Still, we survived through other tough challenges during this period but for one night that scared me and sent shivers down my spine.

I remember that evening vividly with all my senses. It was getting dark around 7 pm or so when my sister’s symptoms of headache and dizziness got worse. She had been in bed, for now, the second day as we were reluctant that they would fade with rest as usual. Alas! Tears scalded my sister’s face as she lay weak and could not stand, fever spiked, and her words choked in the throat. Now the government hospital was just a Stone’s throw away but as the narrative was, at night, they’re no doctors, no nurses and it will only be a bottle of normal saline running and no drugs plus it wouldn’t be possible to do tests in the night. The hospital was no option and now it was already curfew time but that was less of a problem. We had to rush to the clinic.

My mum’s word echoed through my mind with a lot of pain when she said we had nothing to do but wait for the morning and take her to the hospital and furthermore that we couldn’t afford going to the clinic since we had only five thousand shillings left that wouldn’t suffice. I felt of lozenge of sadness lodged in my throat as I gazed at my sister, tears rolling down her cheeks, frail as if life draining away from her drop by drop. It was an unfamiliar terrible sight of hopelessness that made me hate myself for being in a poor family.

I regret that thought for my parents have given their best n they do work but, in that instant, I couldn’t help it. Without thinking, I reached out for my bag and pulled put a Two thousand shillings note meant for church program of discipleship ministry I head at campus and gave it to my mum. I distribute this money to different cell leaders to conduct church programs we do online since it’s the only way to keep the church going.

Without haste, we carried our sister in the dark to the nearest clinic and good riddance, doctor was around, and tests were quickly performed. The money by God’s grace was sufficient for the initial treatment to ensure she would go through the night. The doctor confessed to us that she would have far worse odds with each passing hour as she had severe malaria on top of the typhoid and bacteremia. The following day, we went to the hospital and they had just supplied the monthly drugs and she recovered.

When I sit back and ponder at this experience and recall the fact that I was unwilling to take up the role before that possibly was the only straw that saved my sister’s life makes me tremble and shudder at the thought of “what if I hadn’t taken it up?” I drown in the vast cosmos of depression over this lockdown that made it impossible for my parents to work and sheer thought of basic need of health we had failed to accord to my sister.

I would have probably lost my only sister. In these melancholic thoughts, I can see light and Jesus at work that we will overcome this pandemic. I saw light in the kindness of the doctor and the plans of God that goes ahead in the future for us.  I can see light in the work of the health professionals, NGOs, philanthropists, and government lending a hand to the people. My sister’s light was rekindled and so shall the light of humanity. I can see a covid 19 free world.

THE CALL

By Lubega Isa

A call to promote me to a permanent worker after graduating brought me so much joy. This step ahead also increased my economic well being. However, not long into this enjoyment, the coronavirus pandemic struck, and I lost the permanent position.

I was sharing a single room with my brother at the time. Sharing a single room with my brother, and a few weeks into the lockdown, we started surviving on the prior savings little it was.

At the end of May, we came up with an idea of risking our last savings and invest it into a small business of Chapatis supplying them around our place of residence.  On the first day of our investment, we incurred a total loss but persistently we gave it a second & a third try.

Luckily enough later on we got positive results that now we are already earning something for our survival though it’s still little and yet our single room landlady is now in high demand for her rent.

In this survival for the fittest scenario, I have learned and tested the benefits of self-employment than those of employment. In addition to the above, it has improved my financial discipline in terms of saving & expenditure.

Therefore I hereby make a call to the government to improve on their mechanism of supplying food & safety equipments by using the various associations in the different localities and increase on the efficiency.

Leaders should start-up counseling sessions on top of the sensitization programs to overwhelm the citizens from stress, stigma, and depression that may lead to harm of their health.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to seeing the government inspecting the supply of the money that is put in place to help the youth during or after this lockdown.

 

My Lockdown Experience

By Nanyonjo Cate 

It was around 22nd February 2020 when rumors started circulating on all social media platforms that my country Uganda was soon going into a total lockdown due to the global pandemic caused by covid 19 and at this time I was recovering from a serious depression of losing my job due to the bankruptcy of the company. My mind was extremely active and boiling up for new ideas on how best I can raise my tuition for my final semester and at the same time cater for my rent and my sibling’s tuition but again I remembered that the best option would be to start with my skills as my initial capital.

I had worked myself so tirelessly trying to convince schools get me a contract to supply them with reusable sanitary pads and my hopes were completely shuttered when they announced the closure of schools just a few days when I had gotten hopes in one of the schools that had given me an opportunity to convince the parents on their next PTA Meeting.

Much as this seemed like a blessing in disguise of creating more time for me to look for money little did I know that most avenues were going to be seriously affected. Being an enthusiastic person this did not stop me from thinking out loud on how best to look for money, I traveled to my village to get myself some food products to sell them from my place and unfortunately the day I had finished parking my full sack to be taken back in the city is the same night the president announced the closure of all the public means and at this time I was left with no option but rather to just stay in the village. My two siblings were left in the house on their own with almost nothing in the house to feed on since I had used all the money to travel back to the village expecting to come back with food.

I was forced to contact my friends in the city to help me look out on my siblings however they got tired at some point since they were also not doing well financially. They had to start adjusting to the new normal of missing meals and only surviving on the water until recently when public means were allowed and we were given a chance to unite again but at this time round all the food I had packed had gotten spoilt and there was no money to get more and bring in Kampala. With the massive increase in taxi fares, I had to find my way out on tracks and get in the city.

In a nutshell, the lockdown has greatly impacted my life emotionally and financially therefore ask the government to allow schools to be considerate when candidates or finalists resume school since most universities want to resume with exams which means instant payment of full tuition which some of us do not have.  The landlords are starting to act weird as they seem completely tired of waiting for the complete ceasing of the lockdown for us to pay everything and yet some of us our hopes seem to be completely shuttered and making our mind sink more and more into depression.

With hope comes life

By  Gareth the Poet

It came by storm we never saw it coming. Even if we were running at our highest speed it still caught up, racing through our bodies as our hearts were pacing, beating like it was our last. And indeed this nightmare came to pass, what was once a warning became a reality check, as we were examined and checked we could only wait for our death certificates.

All was lost with our heads down praying that this was just a dream, as it seemed to be our time to sleep forever. At the moment asking for 19 minutes, 19 seconds more but sadly there was nothing we could do anymore. COVID 19 more than a virus, it is a murderer taking lives wherever it goes, leaving a trail if coffins and broken hearts therefore breaking us.

It hurts every time we think about it, this epic pandemic justifying the apocalypse, the end is near as the world becomes a wasteland with this virus devouring us and turning us to waste.

There a thousands of reasons to lose hope but hope is the only thing that should be contagious. So even in this painful contingency of quarantine hope should grow amongst all of us.

We were cut off from our jobs unable to earn a living so that we could keep on living. At the cost of our freedom leaving us poor and hungry as we hunger for the end of this chaos. All our hard work our businesses stopped because of this invisible killer making our hardships visible. Our economy broken by this plague, what happens to the families relying on shops, poverty at it’s peak as all business is stopped.

We were given a directive to avoid contact with those we love. It’s hard to imagine that the greatest allowed public display of affection is a simple elbow bump. As we socially distance ourselves to lengthen the time we have left. But all will be well, the trauma caused by this atrocity will fade faster than the damage caused by this disaster.

I don’t know if it will get better or worse but the worst thing would be to believe that nothing will get better. With thousands gone all we have left is hope and each other. Even when the world wilts into nothingness, when hope is lost there is truly nothing. Dove c’e’ speranza c’e’ vita. When hope is lost, life is lost too.

HONEY SHOP: A CASE OF THE NEGATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS IN UGANDA

By ABIMA NORBERT BUTELE

Honey Shop is an agribusiness project started by two former senior six students, one by the name of Reagan Richard Okia, and the other Norbert Butele Abima. The idea of utilizing the confectionery as well as the health benefits of natural honey to provide a suitable substitute for processed sugar was conceived by the duo in a school classroom towards the end of 2019. Furthermore, honey is becoming increasingly popular with the Ugandan market.

However, the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been a bottleneck for the project which was started in February 2020. The pandemic has been an impediment to the manifestation of an idea to channel the development of entrepreneurship skills and much-needed income for the team with dreams of joining the university in the  2020-2021 academic year.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the supply chain for natural unfiltered honey from readily available sources like Arua and Nebbi districts has been cut off due to their being border districts. This has terminally led to limited quantities of the natural honey in the Kampala metropolitan area which happens to be the major market for for the product. Ultimately, this has limited any sort of progress in the business, causing losses.

Furthermore, the closure of public transport until recent weeks as a mechanism for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered any possible transportation of honey products to retailers. Consequently, the product has remained boxed and unable to access the consumer market where it is on-demand.

There has also been a sharp decline in the demand for honey products due to the fact that the primary consumers have had to prioritize necessities such as food, water, and electricity. This owing to the increased levels of contract terminations and pay cuts by employers that have been put out of business by the strict government guidelines of social distancing to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

Honey is an important ingredient in many recipes including confectioneries as well as the trademark sticky wings recipe by the Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC) franchise run by Kuku foods in Uganda. However, due to the closure of restaurants until recently, there has been a reduction of clients in need of honey-based confectioneries and KFC’s sticky wings. This has in turn prevented Honey Shop from being able to supply honey that would be needed to make these products. As a result, the business has failed to profit.

In a nutshell, Honey Shop is a textbook example of small businesses in Uganda facing a steep decline owing to the economic and social impact of the Coronavirus. This has left hopes, dreams and ambitions shattered with no sign of hope in the foreseeable future.

Lockdown or Dimedown?

By Naluyange Keturah Shebah

The COVID-19 pandemic began as a joke. Me sharing memes, people laughing in my DMs, sounds like a normal day. On March 20th however, the president of Uganda declared a national lockdown. We had to leave school for 32days because, why not? I hug a minimum of five people a day on a normal school day but COVID-19 wasn’t having any of that. We had to go home. Of course I wasn’t moved because this was definitely the perfect time for me to “save the semester”. In fact, those 32 days were definitely going to be life-giving.
My semester had started on a roll. It went wayward way too fast. I wasn’t in control. We had covered half of the Molecular Biology Biotechnology ll content and I still had no idea what the course outline of this specific course entailed. The backside of my Computing II book(where I was supposed to summarise my biotechnology notes) was empty, and even with all the front side computing ll notes, I still didn’t know how to write even the simplest code in C++. So this lockdown was definitely God sent.

I was too excited that Friday, I even forgot my favorite grey sweater in one of the lecture labs at school. But that was the least of my concerns. It was refreshing to know I wasn’t going to wake up early on Monday to attend a parasitology practical class, whose test was coming up the Monday after that yet I wasn’t very conversant with all the human parasites, neither helminths nor protozoa. With three weeks to final semester papers and my brain still wondering why the semester doesn’t start in February when I show up, instead of January, this lockdown was received with all the joy I could muster.
Four weeks into the lockdown, which wasn’t lifted, I realized I wasn’t saving the semester-yet. I was beginning to encroach on my savings instead. Because the lockdown came with severe bangs of boredom, I had to stay online, whether to waste my day on the primary school group recalling that gruesome day when we received seven cains because some backbenchers stole the maths teacher’s red pen(a story for another day, really) or to stay up really late watching cats wearing hats and socks on YouTube, I still needed to stay connected. ‘

My savings continued to decline steadily, because my love for singing parrots and senior four stories from 2015 that I had outgrown was greater than my urge to beat my 2020 savings goal. Now, the only reason I began to even use my savings for data was because my two main sponsors, my beautiful mother and my very awesome brother, were not giving me money in a readily available way as was the case when I was still at school. My mother gives me out of school upkeep and my brother gives me my school upkeep, which is a very beautiful amount, beautiful enough to enable me to save some of it.
But now that school has been canceled till further notice, there is really no need for school upkeep, I mean, the president is keeping us out of school. So the upkeep I get from my brother is to keep me online(which I very much appreciate), not in school, so the income is definitely much lower than my former. My mother, on the other hand, gives according to her mood. If she wakes up on her right side, she’ll hand me a beautiful note to cheer me up and on a bad day, I’ll tell her obwavu bunnuma(I have run out of money) and she’ll tell me to read my books because my friends(who spend all day laughing at memes) are reading.

So the situation these days is weird. I have to decide whether I’d rather fail to achieve my savings goal this year and stay online, or if I should be wise enough to see that I can accomplish much better things while I’m offline. Undoubtedly, a lot of people have achieved a lot online, but I’d like to believe I want something else instead.  So, with this period of income scarcity for me, I’ve decided to save a little from every batch of money I receive, and have also resorted to staying online only a few days a week.

It is actually a good idea because it doesn’t hurt my savings and I get to catch up with everything that’s been happening while I was offline when I finally go online. I have also managed to achieve a few things I had postponed, including reading books that people I look up to have recommended for me to read, getting a peace of mind, reaching my writing goals and eventually saving the semester.

 

Ordeal of struggle

By Mwesigye Lucky Patson

All my life I have known struggle as the desire to survive, I have known it as the desire to live. Everyone is born with the desire to survive and if you are living you are surviving, you are struggling. Struggle defines all African families because it is a story of how they all fight to meet ends. It is a story of how they are always faced with hardship and still rise through it all. Some people look at struggle as suffering but it’s more than suffering because at the end, those you love to have something to eat or even a place to rest.

We have no tears left but more stories to tell those to come because we have buried our loved ones and have little to hold on to. The little we have is the light of day, what is left of family and maybe the struggle within us. A lot has been going through my mind like; Will things go back to how they were? Do we still have a future to hope for? These and more questions are running through my mind, but I know as long as I still breathe there is always a reason to live.

Before all this begun me and my family were happy with what we had. Though little, it always overshadowed our worries. Worries of whether we would get through the hardships, worries of whether we would all have a good education. What really mattered was that we had each other, and that God still wanted us alive. I was unable to complete my certificate course by may because of the lockdown and this has delayed my goals of making a difference by being able to support my family with practical skills attained.

My father lost his job before the wave of the virus and lockdown hit and he was barely surviving on his savings and small projects. He was disadvantaged greatly because he had two families of his own to support but he still struggled to make ends meet. Luckily enough my mother had a job and would help him support his other family. When the wave hit, the situation became worse because the daily expenditure increased as I and my siblings were home.

The situation became worse because my mother was not working yet she was doing more of spending on not only us but also my father’s other family. I watched as my father out of desperation to keep his family alive would take part in our food ratios and as well ask my mother for money to run his errands.  The lockdown locked out his small sources of income and pushed him to the wall. Though he had another family, my mother stood by him and this showed me that family is about patience and struggle.

My mother also had to support her family in the village and some of her friends that were affected by this virus and the lockdown. Her family was depending on agriculture to meet ends, but this all changed due to price fluctuations. A bunch of matooke that was once sold at shs.20,000 now goes for as low as shs.4000 or even shs.2500. The family depends on the sales of the matooke and other small agricultural outputs to educate my cousins as well as cater for the medication and other needs of my grandparents. Unfortunately, with the little they get from sales, they are unable to support the family since most of my cousins are home because schools were closed and hence more spending.

This has affected us because my mother must send money to the village more than she used to cater for any shortages. She also must help in paying a family loan and my grandfather’s medication.  I also have an aunt who used to work in a makeshift restaurant but due to the lockdown and rising cost of living was knocked out of business. She has diabetes and two children to care for but unfortunately cannot afford her medication and is depending on government aid in terms of food, on loans from friends, and some little money from my mother.

Some things can not be described by words but I have given an account of some of the things I have gone through in fact am not even sure whether I will be able to afford university after the lockdown or whether my siblings will go back to school. Some stories may have a greater magnitude but I am sure some families are experiencing this. Schools overshadowed the inadequacies at home, but this situation has caused many to face the bitter reality of life. The only thing we have left is each other and to help each other out of this mess is all we can do.

For sustainability and survival, a few projects must be taken up and they must be followed up. Easing access to finances through agricultural loans and grants should be done to revitalize different families depending on agriculture.  Creating vocational workshops to equip families with better skills in farming especially those that depend on agriculture for a livelihood should be done.

Post-harvest handling facilities like silos and affordable processing plants that are community-based should be established to ease value addition and storage to have a better market price and improve standards of living. Investment in community SACCOS, as well as the provision of required machinery to support small and medium enterprises, should be done to encourage innovation and enable improvement in standard of living.

Africa has always been a tale of many stories defined by the struggle of families to stay alive. Staying alive is one thing and surviving is another that can only be accomplished together. Let us put aside our differences and have a common goal of fighting poverty and improving livelihoods so that we will have something to look forward to after it subsides.

 

COVID-19 After Graduation

By Mutesi Umihanny

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a communicable disease and deadly flue with no cure believed to have started in animals, spread to humans who also transmitted it to other humans than the rest of the world.

The fact that its deadly disease without a cure vaccine with increasing cases of people being affected or killed by it left us no choice but to abide by the measures that have brought about a serious economic setback.

Pre COVID-19, like everyone else I had plans and a schedule I wished to follow without hindrances. The pandemic comes in during my last stage with the lockdown after graduating in January 2020. I had applied for scholarships abroad but all in vain since I will not only fail to go to the designated state but also fail to get a passport and visa courtesy of the closure of the ministry of internal affairs.

The pandemic not only blew my plans of getting a job but also whisked away any hopes I had for getting one as I cannot go for interviews with this lockdown nor create my own as there is nowhere to buy business assets and capital is apparently used for sustenance.

Hopelessnessinaatthatam in a third world state where jobs were problem prepaid emic going to be worse post-pandemic as instead of recruiting there shall better minating due to the losses the pandemic is causing to different businesses. DareIhopeinlucktofindajobpostpandemic?Whenshallthishappensincethereis no time limit am literally waiting for the way forward.

It gets worse, being in third world state where the government’s attempt to sustain its citizens is continuously failing due to corruption and lack of enough funds. I have to encroachonmysavingsthatIhadplannedonusingascapitaltosustainmyselfnotto forget that the standards of living also keep getting higher because vendors also have families to sustain and there is low production which has caused low supply making the prices to go high courtesy of the high demand. This to me is a serious economic drawback.

I am an unemployed recent graduate at home in a corrupt third world country, hopeless with continuous decrease in my savings and spending plans that are utterly and completely dependant on the lucky time when the cure shall surface. As other people lost their jobs, I was deprived of a chance to any source of income and this is an economic disaster.

Ugandan Student in the Diaspora Experience

By Lubanga  Bruhan and Umulkheir Mubarak 

She came like lightning with its strikes so piercing that only left tears in my eyes, lost hope due to chaos, panic led to fear, silence brought solo in my heart, with everything being at standstill. For the start, I couldn’t help it but wonder how my education and training sessions came to an end in a blink of an eye. Speaking from experience this is the worst thing ever to happen to my life in a foreign country.

At the start, it begun with the super power countries with lots of deaths and cases, it was the pandemic itself with its name called COVID-19. She was the sad part of life that caused a lot of pain and people wonder if they can live through the next day.

Khartoum city used to be nice, with unique beautiful structures and its amazing people brought in peace and joy that helped in finding you a part time job. This was like a bonus income to me that funded my extra activities and helped in research and projects that I engaged in.

Secondly, we used to go out for sorts of things that benefited us; swimming, sun bathing, dance battles, music, movie nights at Afraa. This seized in seconds as the lockdown was initiated and on top of that, we had limited movements that could bring you trouble when the curfew kicks in.

Unfortunately, the penalty for being outside and un designated time was too much that only the rich could pay and the poor community had only one choice being sent to prison for years.

Thirdly, as a student in final year you can only imagine what is going on in my beautiful mind. For example all that time I put in for my extra academic side projects were shuttered, university closed and the worst part was disconnection of the university Wi-Fi that could have relieved me of boredom through social media.

However, hope started to appear when the minister for education announced the revival of upper education through on line. Honestly I smiled, laughed my heart out with tears of joy thinking that am one step to Uganda the pearl of Africa.

Building a New Business During a Pandemic

By Sarah Owembabazi, Co-Founder – NJOZA Solutions

Firstly, this virus didn’t alert us that it was coming. When it did, the news and information were very confusing with some saying Coronavirus didn’t affect Africans. Worst of all, it seemed very okay here in Uganda since our Ministry of Health appeared very prepared for this shock. I had confidence in the ministry since it has handled outbreaks such as Ebola. In all my stay in Uganda, Ebola has always been contained in the districts it surfaces, especially in Kasese district of Western Uganda, attributed to the strong community-based Surveillance system right from District Health Officers (DHOs), Village Health Teams (VHTs) up to Ministry of Health.

Our good story ended on 22nd March when we registered our first case. All things started falling apart including my new start-up enterprise; NJOZA Solutions, a mobile domestic Laundry and Housekeeping Company. Together with my partner a month before the occurrence, we had started testing our service in the market and registered good market response that indeed our dream of providing employment to fellow youth and women was going to come through until COVID-19 occurred.

Covid-19 government response first saw a hike in public transport which definitely had an impact on our business. Eventually, there was a ban on public transport which made our movement difficult. The total lockdown was enforced which meant no movement and no activities.

This season was frustrating; we were joining the market as professionals and we had to obey the presidential guidelines, and this meant putting on hold our activities. This was a very big challenge since we had targets for the first 3 months. The most efficient means of transport for our business – Boda Bodas –  to-date, aren’t allowed to carry passengers due to the higher risk they pose. The Boda Bodas make it easier to traverse through the condensed traffic in Kampala for timely pickups and deliveries. Even with the easing of the lockdown, it is still difficult to get clients because our nature of services involves direct contact with the clients, their property and homes, sometimes. Therefore this virus has greatly affected our operations, targets, and dreams.

On a positive note, we used the lockdown to re-think our business strategy, start on business registration with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), share our business plan with potential investors, share our business with friends and the general public using online tools, social media, and ordinary phone calls as we hope for the situation to normalize.

To the Leaders;

We don’t seem to know when the spread of the virus ends. I have attended a number of leadership and entrepreneurship webinars in which many people have stressed the desire of adapting to the new normal and learning to co-exist with the virus. At the end of the day, we can’t keep locked down without any solutions to the economic shutdown yet we need to meet our  basic and other needs. Otherwise, this will yield increased crime and at worst even war can erupt.

The impact of the virus on the macro and micro economy is very clear and therefore tax waivers, provision of grants, loans, incentives for businesses to be able to catch up, replication of more job opportunities especially in the informal sector; since many have been laid off from their jobs, especially those in the formal sector. Therefore, the informal sector needs a lot of boasting to support the economy and players to catch up with the new modus operandi.

The shift to the adaption of technology alternatives in doing business is here whether we want it or not but here we are still paying OTT (Tax for social media usage) at the time social media is the cheapest mode of marketing, selling among others. Internet in Uganda today remains expensive and for me it is a necessity. I would be the happiest if our government offered us free internet for more opportunities to engage, transact, and learn online as well lookout for new opportunities.

 

TEARS OF A SEEDLING

The cracks on my feet,

To the ends of the world l toil with my toe.

The food l place on table,

my feet know the story best.

 

It is a Corona moreover,

A car that would fly over,

now a virus on a newspaper front cover.

Covid19, made in 2019

didn’t spare even those aged nineteen.

Wow, a celebrated car brand!

 

Like a criminal in my chamber,

The youth l am, so trodden by sorrow.

I live by a contract and die by termination…

But l doubt my future for l starve to infinity..

True,you reap what you sow!

 

Once a giver from my sweat,

but now a beggar from my forced retirement.

Bigger now smaller,

forced hostage to fight the pandemic,

Terminating my academic contract.

 

Corona, where is my income?

I am Uganda’s tomorrow, but still didn’t spare me!

Can my wounds be stitched?

Life is now a twist for l peep in fear,

my economy so alarming.

Hands that earned now support my cheeks all day long..

 

The pain l bare, no one can tell.

The cross l carry, no one can lift.

Can my wounds be stitched?

But to this point, lost in pain,

Burdened with grief.

 

In a contract to stay home and safe,

I doubt you will be able to understand my pain…

The dream of joining campus, now a dead year!

Yes,l miss my school,

I miss my friends.

What a crisis, I mean pandemic!

By Alupo Mercy Marion, 20 years old

CREATING CHANGE DURING A LOCKDOWN

By Carol Mukisa Nyangoma, Executive Director, Warm Hearts Foundation

I am a thirty-year-old Ugandan who resides in Wakiso district. I am a writer, administrator, and women activist who runs a community-based organization that fights gender-based violence and child abuse. And at the same time, employed at a real estate company as an accounts assistant and administrator. From the time the first case of coronavirus was discovered on 21st March 2020, the whole country was left in shock and fear of what would happen due to the fact that the pandemic is spread by people hence a likelihood of a lockdown. The situation worsened when the cases rose to 14, when the president of Uganda announced the stoppage of public transport.

That was the last day I went to work; my organization was stuck with many cases of domestic violence to tackle since so many people were contacting the organization seeking help which I wasn’t able to offer fully. On several occasions, I walked to the nearest police station which is about 5 kilometers from the place I stay in order to save so many people whose homes had turned into torture grounds. A lot of the organization work got stalled due to limited resources and manpower so it was upon me the Executive Director to stand in the gap. I myself could not continue injecting in more money to run the organization since my salary receipt was hanging in balance, so I kept running the activities online so there were some expenses involved. Fortunately, I received my salary for March but that wasn’t the case with the rest of the months (April and May). Commodity prices hiked tremendously, and it was worse for food.  For instance, I always purchased a small sacket of salt at UGX. 800, but it had hiked to UGX 2,000.

When private means of transport were released after about two months, my boss called me back to work even when he knew I do not have a private car. Sometimes I would board a private car and pay almost thrice of the transport as compared to what I used to pay yet I was not earning. This greatly affected my wellbeing and economic state. I had to cut on family expenses in order to survive. For instance, we cut off on water and power use and the number of meals per day. Even when the government distributed the food, I personally did not get it. In addition to high expenses, my job security is still shaky, as most of the tenants for the company that employs me had not paid the rent and some are leaving the buildings. I had saved some little money on my account and I utilized the whole of it for survival. I still have unpaid rent pending for my organization premises and still not sure of where to get the money from since there no funding yet.

The government needs to distribute more food to the right population because no one in my neighborhood got relief food and more children are getting starved every day. Also, the government should recognize the work of non-state organizations more because they are the ones that are on the ground to help people in case of any human rights abuse cases. The public less trusts the police due to corruption tendencies since most of them ask for money in order to render any help. So the government needs to equip and fund the organizations and also consider them as essential workers because the cases they deal with are lifesaving.

The government needs to increase more funds to Community District Officers and Local Council chairpersons since they are the ones on the ground to help the society if any need arises. Items like airtime, fuel, and transport means like motorbikes should be provided to them for rescue and intervention purposes.

The government also needs to bring the corrupt officials to book with an iron hand and if proved guilty, confiscate their property as a lesson to others. Much as so many people gave in donations to help those affected by the pandemic, a very few people got the relief. Even some who got the food, some of it was of very poor quality.

Tough laws are needed to also bring unfair employees to book. Much as I did not lose the job of which my counterparts did, no compensation has been done for the exorbitant expenses I incur in the struggle to get to work as I spend a lot more than I earn since transport means have been doubled and other double expenditures like food expenses. My health wellbeing has also been affected. As a woman in my reproductive age, I find it harder to access reproductive health services due to transport means and limited resources. So the government needs to bring service centers closer to people.

Generally, socially, much as I utilized this time to bond with my immediate family more, I have missed on other social bonding like meeting with other social circles. Economically, my financial situation has been drained, no savings, or even investments, just living to see another day and hoping for a better tomorrow. My organization activities are close to getting stalled as there are no finances to cover expenses for those who could be willing to volunteer yet abuse cases have doubled. I hope the government polishes on the service delivery as we hope this lockdown to end so that we can go back to our normal life. However, the recovery from the shortcomings will take some time.

THROUGH THE EYES OF A S.6 LEAVER…

By Innocent, 23 years Old

I wasn’t able to continue with further studies due to tuition problems. It has not been an easy life for me since my dreams of becoming an engineer are on halt now. I’ve thus had to look for out of the box employment options to financially support my dreams of achieving my dreams as my parents, both alcohol addicts, have not been able to fulfill their responsibilities.

I opted for casual labor; the jobs yielded no good results as it was a little pay issued for the hard labor provided. This went on until late 2019 when I secured a teaching job at a secondary school near home.  I saw this as an opportunity to continue chasing my dreams but I only worked for one month and then broke for holidays and by 2020, I had fully planned how to go about it with the expected savings from the school.

The news of COVID-19 towards the end of March and the subsequent 14 days lockdown affected by the Presidential order came into effect. I remained puzzled and challenged about how to take advantage of available opportunities to raise income and go on with studies in the long run. I thought of an online course, but had queries on how to facilitate it all since even a mere mobile data is an issue because the little money we have goes to food and rent. I then resorted my mind to waiting for schools to re-open.

Opportunities for a senior six leaver like me have been very limited and this season has made it worse; the work environment is not for us because we do not have professional skills.

I call upon the government to increase its efforts in cubbing the spread of COVID-19 and ensure an early development of a vaccine to let us free. Furthermore, more emphasis should be put on educating the youths on life livelihood skills which might be beneficial in such a period as liquid soap making and so on.

LET’S PRAY

The earth turned an abyss;

One or two can’t meet its satisfaction goals, If it has any.

Even when its hundreds of thousands,

It keeps still in its cravings.

 

Let’s pray

The winds still locomote back and forth

But with them,

It’s the identical news as yesterday,

As the other day;

Souls breathing their last,

Swollen eyes itching amid tears,

Hearts aching with pain.

It’s a pity.

 

In the depth of pain and apprehension,

Amidst cold hopelessness

Coated with incomprehensible uncertainty,

We can only ask:

Is there an end to this?

Shall we smile again?

Shall we develop the itchy feet again?

 

What of the dances in circles and courting twos, Shall we?

But still the skies in all their bluish,

Stare at us with no answers.

Let’s pray.

The enemy:

He is a callous one;

Robbed us of our mundane,

The pipe of rubies and charity.

Even the most essential of all

He has robbed of us;

Hope and faith.

At the offset, he shrank them

 

Then bludgeoned them to pieces.

It’s now murky days, no illumination.

Can we pray?

But how do you pray?

How do you pray these days?

These days;

That are dripping sadness to provoke emptiness,

So proud of their cruelty as they are rich in gloom,

Heavy at heart and lonely at moments

 

More so when you’re devoid of hope and faith.

Yet you know in your knowess that you must pray.

The loss;

It’s a weighty one

Each has had a price to disburse

But is it really price or ransom?

Whatever.

 

Some, it’s an enterprise gasping for breath, Some, it’s an income unrealized,

Others, it’s a loved one lowered into the depth of the soils,

Or a relationship caught in development hell.

It’s a bitter pill some will never swallow.

So once more how do you pray?

Do you scream or murmur in tongues;

With fingers clenched and legs caught in knot

Then roll and crawl in your tears?

Okay, when you do,

 

Is the intercession just for your self?

Or to the mind too, comes:

The ailing,

The hungry

The lying dead

Or it’s just you and the guilt?

The guilt of forgetting your partners

In sufferance.

 

Let’s pray

While being oblivious to the obvious cry uncle

Bequeathed to us by recent and present times

Even when the most essential,

Hope and faith are robbed of us.

Look, we can borrow the strength of belief;

Just shout to the skies,

Tell them your plight,

Their plight

And believe

That something,

Someone stronger than you are

Is listening.

Let’s pray.

By Kaijuka Ezron Rusoke

LOCKDOWN EFFECT

By Sseggirrinya Mark Peter

Like a snail, when it senses danger it hides into its shell but that doesn’t mean he danger will leave. While in the shell, the snail can’t vividly see what’s happening outside which probably puts it in more trouble than what it is hiding from. And this is a replica in our nation, when the pandemic broke out the government started on a lockdown that was meant to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. At the start of the lockdown, the whole population regardless of tribe and political affiliations joined in and supported the government because they go always clear. At the genesis the head of state declared a fortnight lockdown twined with a 7:00pm curfew which people religiously followed because they hoped for a clear future plan. Down the road, things fell apart because the government continuously extended the lockdown which sparked off very many crimes including robbery, domestic violence, and murder due to the widespread hunger. This has forced people to default the directives of the government because the biggest population being hard up. That is my supposition.

Having finished my Alevel studies in 2019 and siting home to closely 2 months I decided to start being a little busy. At hed awn of  2020, I celebrated my 20th birthday which rang bells in my head, I was no longer quantified as a teenager which only meant I was supposed to startup my source of income because I would no longer depend on my parents on particular items. Being a boy is meant just as a caterpillar comes out of its cocoon, so I was supposed to come out of my comfort zone. With most of the jobs requiring qualified personnel, I settled for a job that would be regarded as dreadful by most teenagers in this generation.I was recruited as a teacher of Social studies and Mathematics in a community school in my neighborhood. Being passionate about changing society, I took this as an opportunity to interact more with people.

However, it being a community school I didn’t expect much financially because of the parents here were disadvantaged and couldn’t afford the other schools in the neighborhood. Due to the fact that the school fees were affordable, there were very many children and only five members of staff which roughly put the teacher-student ratio to1:80. I was supposed to earn Shs. 150,000. Luckily, I had received my February pay off which I had invested with my friends in a T-shirt branding company called BM-ARTISTIQUE and our target market was school club shirts. With the interruption from the deadly COVID-19 that saw the closure of schools, first rendered me unemployed but also meant our market was crushed. So our investment was at a loss and I had backed a wrong horse.

“If we die, we die” this has been the streets slogan. Just when I thought I was in a bad-ass position, let’s look at Taita Ryan. Having go ten the opportunity to teach and the fact that there were very few members of staff at the school, I had been assigned as class teacher of the primary five class. During the school re-opening of the first term, 2020 is when I got to meet Taata Ryan and Ryan Kalanzi his son. Taata Ryan is a 30-year-old dad, of course not very many men at this age take responsibility. During the usual class teacher-parent talk, I was able to learn very much from him. How he managed to cope up with his family responsibility, rent and school fees left me completely at sea given his occupation. He used to sell chewing gum and menthos.

On the roads in Kampala from the little he earned, he was supposed to pay school fees for his son, a foot there until for their one-room house in addition to al that he was meant to work hard and ensure his pregnant housewife had food home. On the school reporting day, he shared with me his sorrowful hustle and constantly referred to me as “mutabani” narrating to me the big hopes he had in his son. He was very enthusiastic about his son’s education. Keeping in mind that Ryan was fed at school, the only thing that he was now worried at was feeding his pregnant wife. Shutting down schools only meant he had now a bigger burden home. And within no time the lockdown was intensified by the man in a white shirt which saw the closure of public transport and at the blink of an eye, the private motorists were also halted. Remember his market as a road street vendor were the people who travel in the cars into town, now with everything closed only meant his business was no more.

He trekked a 30km journey to Kampala to see if he would obtain something little for his family but al in vain.Luckily the government had told the landlords to back off their tenants which gave him leverage to only fully focus on looking for food. After the distribution of government food which was very discriminatory, I talked to my dad and he granted me permission to give out our fair share of this food after persuading him there were people suffering worse in our neighborhood.  Taata Ryan was the only person who crossed my mind soI decided to take it to him as a gesture of a caring class teacher.To my great dismay, the condition I found him and there st of the family caused me to tear up. He believes hunger will be the death of most Ugandans rather than the virus itself.

Even with the lockdown being eased, we all know it’s going to take forever for people to buy things from street vendors given the way the virus is being believed to move through contact which has made it spread like a wildfire hence no one can be trusted. What is next for Taata Ryan? While the government is talking about the stimulus package how is this going to help a Ugandan as small as Taata Ryan and the muntu wawansi? These are forces to reckon with while the government is thinking of recovery. “I can’t breathe” as statement being used to show dissatisfaction worldwide and surely we can’t breathe because  Ugandans are being suffocated. Let’s join in and proclaim the usual”government etuyambe” and appeal to the government to stop playing Russian roulette with the people.

COVID-19: A TEACHER’S EXPERIENCE

BY Ahebwe Winnifr ed, 23, Teacher

First in a family of four and the first to graduate from University two years ago, I took on a few of the roles at home including relieving my parents of the breadwinner role. Luckily for me, I chanced a job in a private school as a teacher of English and literature.

The salary wasn’t much but good enough to take care of the basics. Earlier this year, in an effort to uplift my siblings as well as myself, I got a loan from the staff savings scheme hoping to use my salary to pay it off. Unfortunately, schools closed just at the beginning of March while my loan was still on. My work previously required me to be at the station from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. With no side business to run, my job was all I had to earn a living.

The lockdown started while I had a little money with which to pay off the loan. I couldn’t pay that off because that’s what I had to survive on until work resumed. Three months later, there is still no hope of the resumption of schools soon due to the increasing cases. Having last received a salary in March, life has been extremely hard. With no capital to start a side business on which to survive, life is now a tug of war. The once busy days have turned into nightmares.

The loan is now accumulating, the little savings I had are getting done and still, there is no hope of resuming work. Providing food at home has itself become a hustle as I have had to survive on a single meal a day, a thing that had never happened to me. Trust me; this is not a life I would wish anyone to experience. What makes matters worse is that nobody can come to my help because people have a stereotype that teachers are actually well off. I have missed out on some educative workshops since some are carried out on Zoom and yet data isn’t cheap at all. Much as I would like to blame my employer for not looking out for us, I cannot do it entirely because he is not at fault since the students that have always brought the money are at home.

The government can come to our (private teachers) aid by providing minimum basic needs to us like food and other simple basics. It could also waiver loan payments beyond formal lending institutions to those who borrowed from the non-formal institutions. Personally, it may be hard to ascertain whether I still have a job or not, so the government could provide opportunities to teachers who have lost their jobs in this pandemic. Much as the pandemic has really affected me so much, I have learned that I should never put all my eggs in one basket. I hope to get out of this pandemic a completely changed person “shaken but stronger.”

RE: YOUTH VOICES AGAINST COVID19

In regards to the reference, I would candidly want to say the scariest thing I have ever experienced in life was the outbreak of this Coronavirus. I truly thought the world was just ending because even the powerful states I very much trusted and thought would save the world looked even more frightened and shaken. This left all the least developed countries in great abyss of fear. It was just around two weeks to my final examinations when our president shutdown all learning institutions.

This was the immediate effect of COVID 19 I personally encountered, leave alone the other bigger and terrible effects like loss of lives, hunger, unwanted pregnancies, breakdown of many economies because now many states are not fully functioning. Some sectors are operating whereas others are closed because of lockdown. I believe in the long run many states will collapse. It’s a big lie to say that the outbreak of the Corona virus didn’t change your way of life. I witnessed a lot of strange things around the globe ever since this deadly virus came. Churches were closed even on Sundays. People washed their hands regularly without meals. My country lived for some short while without any public transport means.

However, everything has got its good and bad part. It was great having many families together. Children got to know their real dads. People learnt new words like quarantine, curfew, lockdown, etc.  Many wealthy individuals called upon, donated a lot in the fight against the virus. This underscored the importance of teamwork and unity.

The world immensely realized the need for vast number of scientists like Engineers and medical people. Many corrupt African dignitaries in the government realized that they shouldn’t have embezzled funds meant for development because some of them felt sick amidst the lockdown and narrowly escaped death while attending treatments in their corrupted home countries because flights were all banned and there was no way out.

I learnt that the whole world is controlled by just word of mouth. Nothing is more profound than leadership because there will never come a time when the world would do without leaders. However much the local citizens may try to fight crises like this next time, if the top leaders still make inappropriate decisions. The all effort will still come back to zero. It’s like running in circles. The world needs nothing more fundamental than just good leadership. We can have all the other good things like life itself, peace, education, good healthcare systems, infrastructure and so forth or NOT HAVE THEM AT ALL.

It entirely depends on the kind of leaders we put in power.  For instance, many countries wouldn’t have registered any single case of this virus infection had their leaders suspended flights and banned entry into their countries earlier. I finally appeal to everyone that we must learn to be leaders and NOT POLITICIANS and speak the truth boldly no matter the consequences if we want to make this world a better place. Please ensure you keep safe from this virus. Thanks!

Yours sincerely,  ABRAMO PATRICK OPIYA.

Is this everything?

Seven, six, one, seven, five;

Four, two, five, eight, six, eight;

Perhaps the numbers do not give a clue!

With sorrow, I say they are people, “Cases”could be the right word. Deaths, Positives.

How did we get here?

 

With unproven conspiracy theories,

We believe its the Virus, The corona Virus, Covid19,

Literally it is the Pandemic.

What do you do when the happening comes up?

When you are dawned with the unexpected.

Countdown lockdowns, nationwide

Curfew time, Unavoidable behavior change,

Everything changes in a flash of light.

 

It was one day, a very bright day that turned out to be a shadow,

A shadow that turned the whole world dark and upside down,

Everything was closed, schools and colleges,

Bars, the malls, arcades, transport systems, Parks,

Everything, Churches and congregations, masses were no more.

Guidelines to follow and live by. Such a tragedy!

 

What do I do when I am becoming distant from God, Rather than getting Closer.

I never thought the church could be part of my belief,

Could the virus have left me for a PAGAN?

For I have cried to God to take it away,

But the sickness keeps spreading, killing, and destroying.

My life has changed . . .

 

I do miss the boda rides,

With the whispers that were always carried b y the light wind.

I do miss out the shouts from Random taxi operators;

“Ssebo Ogenda?”

“Bukoto, Kamwookya Ntinda.”

The wild crazy taxi park.

All of that taken away by the Virus.

You can barely walk without a mask,

For death is roaming about the streets that were once filled with life,

Friendly handshakes, Love filled hugs,

All stolen away in the name of safety.

 

We are living in fear because of the invisible enemy.

The late-night lights were beautiful in the night,

The streets filled with cheer and joy throughout the weekend nights.

Clubs and bars not only keeping us entertained,

But also keeping another person’s life earning.

Well, it’s sad that they are closed now,

Curfew time will not let you see how beautiful the city is in the Night. The virus.

I am worried that I am living on my business Capital now!

For my only source of income is inaccessible,

The government only allowed malls,

 

The workplaces for the Upper Class(THE HAVES).

It is not their fault but it is not my fault either, I belong to the have nots.

I pay taxes too, I pay rent, I have dependents, I have life.

25% off my salary without explanation,

As if my opinion does not matter,

Because I am an employee and they are managers.

A few days later, I receive a letter,

Laying me off of my duties and services would be okay,

But it’ s a letter of dismissal “you are dismissed!”

COVID19, please go easy on me.

 

For I still have school, college to be more precise,

My University believes in electronic mails, and yesterday,

I heard that the time table is out. I am not sure whether it’s mandatory to attend;

The internet is way too expensive for me,

I do not own a personal computer;

How am I going to be able to learn like others?

Maybe I do not deserve an educated future.

 

Will I be able to survive?

What am I going to become after this?

Is there a life for me after the Virus era?

Will there be an aftermath?

Why doesn’t the virus take me with it?

After all, I don’t think it’s worth it anymore.

I Need Answers.

love Jeff.

COVID-19 Slowed My Mental Health Recovery…

By Davis Kawalya ‘Shawn’

I could swear that January, which coincides as my birth month, was my worst month in all the years I have seen the sun and the moon. Then came the coronavirus pandemic that has the whole world on tenterhooks!

Could it be that this is not meant to be my year, or is the Lord testing me? You see, in January, I had a mental breakdown that sent me in a frenzy of looking for ways to hurt myself. Thanks to my strong support system, I  survived. Barely. I barely survived because not many months later, a full lockdown was initiated in a bid to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

On one hand, the COVID-19 lockdown is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and on the other it is the nightmare that keeps me sweating all night. Prior to all this, I was partly unemployed, I still am. All I had for a source of income was a few consultancy gigs that kept me on my feet, a collection of debts that kept me awake with the mosquitoes of the night and a few friends that kept reminding me that all will be well.

On a good note, the lockdown has helped me reflect on all my life choices and has reshaped my mental health to withstand almost anything, but the lockdown. On a bad note, I am still wallowing in debt, with no stable source of income, no promise of another day, but only voices of friends encouraging me that all will be well.

The lockdown has enabled some creatives, and has crippled the rest of us. I am not too good with economics, but one thing is sure, the lockdown has reduced the amount of money floating around. This means many clients are cutting down their budgets on creative work and focusing on survival, and this is not a good thing for most of us. Consultancy gigs have gone down, everyone is almost poor – I think introverts call it ‘being broke’, the employers that want to give you some ‘ka’ money are asking for physical interviews that are almost an impossibility since the relaxation on transport is not what you really think it is.

With sight of online campaigns ahead of the 2021 elections, as a creative, I see a chance to make some money, an opportunity to break even after all this, but again, nothing is really promised.

I really do not know how the government would help in such a situation. I just pray that they manage to keep us safe through all this, after all, life is a figment of imagination, and sometimes a blink of an eye – life is precious. I really think the Government has done all it can to support us through these times, save for the corruption making runs in this country, the government has done a good job. I applaud them.

Government Should Work with Youth to Meet their Needs

By Kibuuka Peter

The outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown has negatively affected my economic wellbeing to a great extent that I have lost some career related opportunities. As a recent graduate of 2019, I had great ambition of starting a career with my studies and immediately started looking for career related opportunities in various organizations, fortunately by start of the year 2020 I had secured a paid internship opportunity in a certain organization which was paying me a good stipend  for starters and this was enough to pay my basic needs as I gained experience and skills. Unfortunately, I lost the opportunity when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic and a subsequent lockdown ensued in Uganda by the end of March 2020. It is during this period when terms like essential workers and non-essential workers were reignited in employment. I think the organization I worked for considered my role as non-essential. Additionally, measures such as  closure of public transport, social and physical distancing introduced by government and implemented to curtail the spread of the disease complicated my life more because my life was confined to one place with no travelling or job opportunities.

 

This coronavirus pandemic will always be memorable to me because it is also during this pandemic and lockdown where I have lost various job interview opportunities. As a determined career seeking graduate, I had put applications in various organization and four (4) of my applications shortlisted and interviews were scheduled in months of March and April 2020. Unfortunately, all the interviews were stopped due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown.

 

On the other hand, the outbreak of the pandemic and lockdown has been transformed my life in the way that it has opened up my brains not only to focus on being employed but to think critically beyond being employed but self-employed because in such cases self-employed people are more likely to continue surviving on their business when the pandemic and lockdown end, unlikely other people who are employed by organizations whose employability is determined by their employers. In case someone is employed on contract basis, the employer may decide to renew or end the contract as it has been seen among various organizations during this pandemic and imposed lockdown. It has also reminded me to start saving however little money could be but saved and be used for a long term investment.

However, the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has also positively impacted on my life in such a way that my day today life will never be the same. I was able to study and complete various online courses which I have enriched my knowledge and skills, and I believe will positively impact on my academic professional. Additionally, I have come to realize that saving for rainy days is MUST not an option.

 

Recommendation to government and leaders;

Governments should work collaboratively with youth leaders representing various social groups to support them financially to come up with various income generating activities. Enhancing access to financial resources where the youth can seek financial support to facilitate their income generating activities, however these should be closely monitored for effectiveness.

Governments and leaders should ensure the provision of capacity development and technical cooperation services to support the development and implementation of income generating activities started up by Youth, particularly in the age of COVID-19.

Governments and other leaders should disseminate WHO, MOH and other guidance on individual and collective measures to counter the pandemic. Measures must be taken to reach youth in various communities that have limited access to the Internet and social media. And this can supportively guide the youth while conducting various activities.

 

 

 

When Uganda Registered It’s First Case…

By Mary Babirye

Before Uganda recorded its very first COVID 19, case, I had never taken the outbreak as serious as it was. The only time I considered it deadly was when I watched news on CNN, Aljazeera or BBC World News and saw how people were dying in European countries. However, when we got our first case, it dawned on me and I think on most Ugandans that we had to actively participate in the fight against the virus simply because it was now here. We had bought a very tiny bottle of sanitizer at home that we paid less attention to before the country recorded its first case and I also keep asking for the price of face masks every time I went to our nearby pharmacy without actually buying any, but after the news of the first case, I woke up to the reality of the outbreak and so did our entire family.  I went and bought a slightly bigger bottle of sanitizer, a five little jerry can of liquid soap the following day but failed to buy the face masks because of the increase in prices for them at that time. I should say that COVID 19 became so real after knowing that we as Ugandans could also contract the disease and as a result, it changed our lifestyle as we adopted new preventive measures like frequently washing our hands, using alcohol-based sanitizers on our hands and practicing social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.

The Lockdown and It’s Effects

Before the lockdown, I was working on a project that was aimed at providing internet / Wi- Fi connection to organizations and companies with a group of people but due to the lockdown, we were unable to push through with our work and so lost some clients. Since the lockdown affected almost all sectors of our economy, some of our clients too were affected. In addition to that, my Art and Craft business was also affected by the lockdown. I had to close the shop and probably think of other ways to market and sell my products.  I then started using my online platforms so that I could get one or two people that were interested in buying some of my products. I had also planned to go to Kenya and purchase some more African products, but I could not push through with my plans due to the lockdown and fear of contracting the disease.

While at home, I had so much time that I used to think of possible ways to earn money while working from home, carried out some research on things that can be made from home and later sold to people that needed them and later found out that some of the things that can made from anywhere are actually things that require skills that we despise. This made me realize how important it is for one to have a skill irrespective of their education and career path.

What Should Government Do?

In line with having better medical services delivered to the people in all parts of the country, I think the government should construct hospitals/ medical facilities in at least every sub-county of a district with housing facilities for medical personnel’s so that they are able to stay near these hospitals and be available whenever they are needed especially during times of crisis like now when the country is faced with a pandemic. The government should also train more doctors and provide incentives for them to encourage them to work in any part of the country. Free accommodation and an increase in their allowances could encourage doctors to work anywhere in the country even in rural areas.

The government should also put more emphasis on agriculture by providing seeds, garden tools, fertilizers or any other machinery to farmers and to those that want to start farming so that they are encouraged to carry out agriculture. Apart from providing all the necessary equipment and ready market for the agricultural produce, the government and the leaders should also encourage the young people to embrace agriculture right away from school by stopping practices that portray agriculture as a dirty occupation or one for people that are not educated. Some schools’ worst punishment for their students is to go and dig, weed gardens, clean kraals, or even harvest some crops.

If the government does not promote Agriculture as an important aspect of our lives and stop such practices in schools, then young people will continue to shun agricultural activities even as they grow up.  The government should tell teachers to teach students how to do farming in a  way that is normal so that they are encouraged to carry it on in the future knowing that it is for the betterment of our country instead of giving them punishments that portray agriculture as a curse in the country. I also think that one of the compulsory subjects in our schools should be Agriculture and it should be more practical than theoretical because it has been so evident during this lockdown like never before that people cannot live without food.

The internet, social media, talents, and skills have also stood out so much during this lockdown and I think the government should promote them so that people become more self-reliant like some have been even in this period.   The government should encourage schools to promote children’s talents and teach them different skills that are more practical and allow students to work even before they are employed. There is also a need for the government to promote the use of the internet, technology, and social media platforms by most people in the country by reducing the cost of the internet and encouraging schools to embrace the use of computers and technology while teaching students.

MY COVID-19 EXPERIENCE

By Atwijukire Trust

It was in March when the President His Excellency Museveni announced that all public gatherings had to be stopped with immediate effect because of the corona pandemic.

Why should this happen; it’s going to cost me a lot in as far as my career as an usher is concerned!’ I said to myself frustratedly as thoughts raced in my mind like fire eating up dry grass. I started doing ushering to earn a living last year with PEAK USHERING AGENCY, based in Mukono Municipality, and this has been going on well until the outbreak of corona virus which blocked public gatherings. These public gatherings included church gatherings, hotels, all kinds of parties, functions and all the other events that bring people together with give us financial opportunities to explore. Which was followed by closure of the institutions of learning including universities and territories. ” We shall have to stay home for fourteen days so that we can be able to identify who has the corona virus, keeping social distance and all the other directives form the ministry of health” the president remarked. With all the zeal we decided to stay home knowing that fourteen days would end and we would definitely resume our usual routine but Little did we know that the situation would get worse up to today as the ministry of health came up with more directives including the lockdown.

As arising youth the outbreak of corona virus and the subsequent lockdown has shut down a number of opportunities I should have had since people have been home so no events that require ushers are allowed to take place as people have resorted to zoom and other different platforms of meetings and not forgetting the weddings which have been turned into scientific weddings which are supposed to be attended by not more than ten people and the reception is to a limited number of people thus requiring no ushering because of the less number of people who are supposed to attend the function.

In one way or the other my life has been altered because there are no opportunities to work anymore as for now thus no money and this has costed my standards of living and even struggling to meet the needs of life and all I have to do is to wholly depend on my parents for survival which does not come out easily because these parents had to as well stay home during the lockdown.

This whole situation has caused me a great deal of unemployment, a lot of  frustration and unnecessary stress given the fact that even if the vaccine of corona is discovered today,  some people have postponed or even cancelled out events and to those who may want to continue with these functions the government would still ask the organizers to observe the guidelines given by the ministry of health such as social distance with limits the number of people on an events and thus no need of ushers as the keep moving around the whole place which is risky. Even for fear of our lives if anyone calls on us for our ushering services we are as well scared of acquiring this corona virus from the mass gathering. Given the fact that I must depend on my parents for even the smallest things it has a lot turned out to be a burden.

The government should put in place more funds to support the youth because if such funds are available and even easier to get I would apply for such funds and venture into an economic activity which I can do from home as for now so that I can earn a living as we wait for this corona situation to end which no one has any idea about when it’s ending instead of remaining at home seated without what to do. More so, our leaders should stand in the gap to ensure that the funds allocated to develop the youth in the annual budget are properly utilised by the youth to end unemployment among the youth. This can be through providing the necessary information and guidance on how to access the money and the necessary requirements. Leaders may also help the youth in identifying the different areas of investment available.

Hoping that my story will be considered, I believe my voice will have a far-reaching impact in the face of this coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19

COVID-19, you brought me a new word

Quarantine, I didn’t know you

Thanks to you, my English has improved

But if you were a person

You would have acted a horrid part in a scene

A grotesque standing in the corner to grasp a passerby

COVID-19, you would be an aye-aye.

 

First I ran unemployed

And then my boss tells me no money

All the little savings are done

Just in the first two weeks of the lockdown

And do u know why?

Because I thought it would take two weeks

It has now passed three months

One time I didn’t give daddy back his balance

Because I needed data to send this poem

If COVID-19 you were an aquatic

You would be a blobfish.

 

I am now at my ancestral home

Stuck here with my parents

They never believe a child grows

To be sent to wash utensils

Have gotten tired of dad

I have fallen out with mum

She sees mistakes in everything she sets her eyes on

I am going back to 2019

I will not manage 2020

COVID-19, if you were an insect

You would be a beetle.

 

Now, don’t talk about the government

Its priority is to keep people safe and health

Which it has tried with its lockdown

Okay, let them give us food

But they gave my neighbor

They said I am well off

Then give us the masks you promised

Am a truly a hungry troubled youth

Too uncontrollable to even wash my hands

COVID-19, if you were a god

Indeed the Lucifer.

By Jesse Musulube

Poet, writer, activist, leader

 

CONFINED

The wind blows

And with it my hope

The empty saucepan rolls

Seven children

Rumbling stomachs

Not a morsel to eat

Didn’t know banana peels are delicious

Mother blames father

He blames the government

No work, no money

Alone in the corner, I weep

From hunger, from depression.

By Ejang Patricia Peace

DEAR GOD

By Jjuko Nathan

It was getting close to 11 pm when I knelt next to him. He smelt of incense and an overwhelming warm stuffiness. You could tell he was worried and in pain as he pressed down the beads of his faded black rosary with a sounding roughness and by the look of despair and the shiver of his lower jaw when he murmured Notre Dame. I could hardly tell the rest of what he was saying, only deep but soundless tones like a wailing widow. Probably, he was genuinely concerned about ‘God’, his flock now that it had been about a month or more since the government quarantine policies had frustrated Mass, maybe the offertory basket and the tithings since no one was due a tenth of what they never earned anymore still, because of the lockdown. Perhaps it was a question of faith, conflicting realities in his mind, the devil in science, questioning the authenticity of religion and its miracles now that Italy was bleeding, pastors attempting to heal the sick were dying, even the Kaaba, it had never in history been empty, what if people now actually learned to live without the church what would be next? Where was ‘God’ in all this, he probably thought in agonizing worry?

To my right, furthest from the altar and close to the eastern door of the church a lass, right about twelve or less stood in innocent admiration more so of the martyrs in the painting, being welcomed by angels, she cared less for the place she was in, to her, it was probably the home of an invisible ‘God’, to the rest, a hospital for the spiritually broken and in despair, to me, a sanctuary for the financially frustrated or an office for better grades. But now, now that the times were unprecedentedly hard, I had to seek comfort in faith as numbers where now hopeless and logic limited as nothing made sense, I need hope so I would not crumble like the priest because deep down, only god saw I was sweating blood. She sung in silence, and loudly hopped on to the next painting.

A woman about ten feet away from the girl signalled her to silence, with a finger on her lips; her eyes red however. She must have been crying. Judging from her casual outfit, she could have been a lawyer who had spent about a month not working and yet breadwinner or trader, whose market had dropped or exporting ended and the merchandise probably expiring, or a farmer whose produce be it milk or eggs was rotting due to no consumption since everyone now spent less on luxury. She could have been a mother with a loan in the bank that she could now not work to pay off due to the lockdown and curfew policies, all I know was that she was worried.

When news about the virus first hit our waves, I thought it a political game or perhaps a normal epidemic like it had been before with Ebola or Cholera. I had actually found it wise trying to reason it out as the third world war in form of some bio chemical weapon and I had found relief in how distant Africa, Uganda to be specific, was far from China or America. It then hit me dead when a total lockdown was declared in the country. As a student, the source of my tuition was not just a worry anymore but the fear as to whether my current year would be considered a useless one as it had now been four months since schools were last closed and the news depicted no hope of opening the same any soon.

so on my knees a lot of ideologies, conspiracy and confusion swarm through my head, reciting in mind a conspiracy poem I had read earlier on;

(She was desperate for the goodnight kiss she never got,

broken by the distance, she could never huge or whisper in her mother’s ear.

To her, it was a war against love and all that made us human,

like simple gestures of appreciation, a slight handshake,

a comforting embrace, a goodnight peak.

He was appreciating for the consequences of disaster,

to the optimist, we had been cursed with a blessing,

probably aimed at exposing how broken and corrupt or systems were.

They were proud of the exposure,

in the eyes of the scientists, it was reveling,

how powerless and lying religious dominions were.

They were broken and close to despair,

in the eyes of the innocent, the economy was a frustration,

survival was a luxury as death cuts them off without a price tag.)

Still about the same, it had opened my eyes to yet a broader and different perspective but perhaps was covering up the realities of my fears, hopelessness financially now that all that I knew that could support me financially was on lockdown. I opened my mouth in prayer, dear God,

COVID-19 AND ITS EFFECTS

A day came when everything changed

People could no longer live as they used to live

Staying indoors became the order of the day

All due to COVID-19

 

Students, Employees, Employers told to stay home

Sources of income closed

People could no longer access their businesses, offices

Being found working in large numbers became a crime

All due to COVID-19

 

Transport closed

People could no longer travel

Moving from place to place, long-distance traveling restricted

Traveling on foot became the order of the day

Because being congested and in public places could let the virus spread

All due to COVID-19

 

Economy strained

Taxes reduced in every sector in a short time

Because people could no longer work

Earn revenues to pay taxes

Government struggling to revive the struggling economy

Youths became stranded

Because most of them could no longer work

To earn themselves income to be self-sustainable

Became a problem

Almost 75% of youths became stranded and miserable

Because of unfavorable living conditions

All due to COVID-19

 

Employees living in fear of losing jobs

Because they could no longer work

And businesses not bringing in income

Employers forced to lay off workers

Whether competent or not

All due to COVID-19

 

People forced to stay home

In order to fight the spread of the Corona Virus

And also to protect lives and those of their families

All due to COVID-19

 

Families had to be together

Cases of Gender-Based Violence increase in most communities

Because of poverty and intolerance

Not used to staying together all the time

All due to COVID-19

 

Stigma arises

Discrimination of recovered COVID-19 patients, strangers

Not associating with these people

Because of fear that the virus could get them

All due to COVID-19

 

All in All

Let’s show LOVE

Let’s not DISCRIMINATE

Let’s follow GUIDELINES

Because together we can fight COVID-19

STAY HOME, STAY SAFE

 

BY; MUHINDO ANTHONY

To:

A Ugandan Youth,

 

Dear Muzukulu,

Re: Exploring alternatives with opportunities now and ahead.

I trust that you are safe wherever you are. I congratulate you upon surviving and reaching this far. There is a saying that survival is for the fittest; in this situation, we could not have imagined who was fit enough to survive. Keep taking care.

I am not sure what you might be feeling right now, I would like to send you vigorous energies, thoughts, and wisdom for the days ahead. I encourage you to keep brave and adhere to both the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health Uganda guidelines.

Two months ago, I was locked down. I was afraid because ever since I was born, it was my first time to experience a lockdown. I was not prepared at all mentally, financially, and socially. I could not imagine what would happen in the next couple of days. I received all sorts of bad news. Both from friends who lost jobs, family members, my biggest support system who were stuck in their homes and new working policies that I needed to accept.  I had very bad nights because my sleeping patterns changed, from peaceful to peaceless and shorter. The energy surrounding me and attitude was so negative. My mental health thus drained.

At first it was difficult to seek support. My colleagues recommended a webinar that shared some work from home and well-being resource materials. I practiced them and took each day at a time by not rushing myself and focusing on what I liked doing. Before, I was always anxious for information about new COVID19 cases and what was happening in the world. I had to declutter from that information by reading two leadership books with a group of five women online.

It later turned out to be a learning and quite good experience. I rediscovered myself and acquired new hobbies. I learned how to bake snacks and I have baked ten cakes so far in a short time as I tried new recipes. I started running as a form of exercise. That became my new hobby, and I am learning that when I am tensed up or stressed, running or walking in nature is therapeutic for me. I had to think strategically for now and in the future. I discovered and found new career opportunities and shifted gears to business online through delivery.

On many occasions, my gadgets had issues and I had to search for technicians around who were locked down in their homes This is because my laptop was my source of income since I worked remotely and had to deliver results. With time my phone failed to function, it was a whole mess for my resources to use while home. With a group of friends, I tried to carry out charity to support fellow youth with food and sometimes participated in online advocacy programs.

Uganda’s population of youth is over 70%; the few youth I encountered had lost their jobs, and others were asked to take forced leave. The challenges to pay rent were high. I vividly remember how my female friend complained of her landlord who always hit her bedroom window early in the morning asking for rent money. She reported to the local councilor of the village who cautioned him from hitting her window.

So many youths spent days on empty stomachs. It was difficult to access health services from facilities that were not youth-friendly, including difficulty in accessing ART refills for people living with HIV due to poor transport means since the transport means were restricted.  The difficulty in dealing with mental health and loans was frustrating among youth.

I might not explain what you feel right now, but I believe there is a solution. I have witnessed young people on so many occasions who are not seated doing nothing. I encourage you to stay brave and speak up because it is the only way you can be helped.

Declutter from any negative and unrewarding information. You can call the 116 child helpline and explain the situation in your life for support. Contact me if you need some connection to therapy and shelter to support you. Even at midnight when I would receive scary calls by survivors seeking for help, my networks connected me to service providers and counselors who rendered support to them in all ways.

I have also seen youth who have innovatively made money during this period. They have made home masks, made use of urban planting, and agriculture. They have continued to operate in hard environments because of the strong support system around them. Unfortunately, this system might be difficult to discover now. Utilize the one you can access now and use this period to build it.

I encourage you to work with others. Much as we are social distancing, we cannot work alone. We should support where we can in our own capabilities; volunteering with health workers and reporting cases of human rights abuses such as violence which has rampantly grown in this pandemic.  Bond with beloved ones, and if you can access the radio, television, or any source of information, try to utilize this information for positive and developmental programs. Engage in discussions that nurture you into a leader with open-minded ideas. Make your mind busy and learn something new every day. Have a daily routine and stay consistent with it. Try talking to someone mature and seek support on how to be helped if you need support.

I believe in you. Do not sit and wait for opportunities. Let opportunities find you. May your attitude grow to be positive! Nothing has ever failed from trying. It takes a spark to start a fire, and with efforts, you will create change.

We are resilient and energetic.

In sisterhood.

Patricia Humura

 

 

 

SILENCE IN THE CITY

These days the day breaks,

and night falls_

on our dry throats.

We’re no longer satisfied

all for closure of our stations_

These days the world’s

grown into a dullsville_

the unwanted silence,

like a graveyard,

that reigns all over

which has left almost

everyone’s mind apart and soaked in grief.

 

Now the sovereign rule stands,

like never before!  Curfews imposed_

for better results_

leaving bruised bodies

of the “unfaithful”

 

So now is the time

when the world’s sages

trend_

for a new innovation,

to purposefully combat

the fore!

 

Thus comes a right

time, when rivalry must be sniffed off,

to reach a common goal.

These are the hardest days,

though_

that you’ll ever know!

By Phionah Niwasiima

THE FIRST TIME I MET COVID19

I met Covid19 the same way I met my first period,

And I wish my hands were 12years long,

So I could save myself from my low self-esteem.

I collected bloody bowels of lost money,

With constrictions of emotional stress,

Every time I lost access to my friends.

Some days,

I wanted to bleach my underwear,

Because I could not stare at unemployment’s stained shame.

I met Covid19 every sunrise,

When the night before I remember setting my alarm  clock ,

To wake me up in another world,

Where my leaders would counsel my fears away.

Because depression was another annoying period pain,

That I wished would disappear.

I wish opportunity would rain our way,

So we don’t thirst because we keep exporting our water away to foreign countries,

As they steal our wealth within our sight.

Maybe they could pain away our taxes,

And government can pad up their corruption,

The same way I made peace with my first period,

I know this is a mess we can clean up.

By Musiimenta Elizabeth

By Joyce Namagembe

At home in Masanafu.The landlord has come to ask for rent from the tenants for over 3months now. Only one tenant has been able to pay since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic in Uganda. Others cannot pay because they are not working since March when the country went through the lockdown. Joyce tries to plead to the landlord for a pardon or a grace period but the landlord insists that she should vacate her house. All tenants come out and educate the landlord who later calms down and leaves.

Location:             Home in Masanafu Village

Characters:         Joyce, Landlord, Tenant I and tenant 2

Background SFX: Children playing in the compound.

            1, SFX: Knocking hard at the door

  1. Landlord: (Projecting) Madam, Madam, are you inside?
  1. Joyce: Eh, landlord, why do you knock too loud like that?
  1. Landlord: It’s my door, I am free to knock the way I want.
  1. Joyce: But that is being rude, was trying to put my baby to sleep, he has not fallen asleep since last night… You know…
  1. Landlord: I know what?! Do I know anything concerning your life?
  1. Joyce: Please listen to me.
  1. Landlord: Before you explain anything, I want my money.
  1. Joyce: Ssebo please listen, ever since the COVID 19 pandemic broke out in Uganda, I lost my job.
  1. Landlord: So?
  1. Joyce: I am requesting that you give me some time, when the lockdown gets to an end, I will resume my work and clear the debt.
  1. Landlord: Whom are you deceiving?! I have seen people working though the country is going through a lockdown.
  1. Joyce: I am not deceiving you, please. The company I work for made selections of workers who are going to continue working as they facilitate their transport, but it was unfortunate for me because I was not selected because I am not among the senior employees.
  1. Landlord: I do not care just give me my money. Haven’t you been saving?
  1. Joyce: Please help me, my son is not well, I cannot give him proper treatment because I do not have money, being a single parent, I am struggling to feed him and my 4years old girl.
  1. Landlord: So, you want my children to go through what your children are going through?
  1. Joyce: No, that is not what I mean.
  1. Landlord: You know what? Can you please find means of vacating my house? Or else I will throw your property out!
  1. Joyce: I don’t have anywhere to take my children, please wait until the lockdown gets to an end so that I take them to my mother.
  1. Landlord: (Shouts) Can you stop telling me about your problems and leave my house?!
  1. Tenant 1: (Approaching Mic) But landlord, aren’t you human?! Ihave heard that woman pleading for you mercy from you, and you continue shouting at her? Seriously?
  1. Landlord: Are you the tenants’ spokesperson here?
  1. Tenant 1: I am just concerned about the way you are shouting to the young lady, we , the neighbors know what she is going through ever since the lockdown started.
  1. Landlord: You people should listen carefully, by the way… (He shouts) All of you come out…
  1. Tenant 2: (Approaching Mic) What is it landlord dear?
  1. Landlord: Stop sweet-talking me, I want my money!
  1. Tenant 2: Hmmm where do you think we can get it especially during this time when we are not working?
  1. Joyce: That’s what I have been explaining to him. (Cries)
  1. Tenant 1: Wamma stop crying. For me have already cleared.
  1. Landlord: Then why are you here now? Have I called you out? I want to talk to only those who have not cleared.
  1. Tenant 1: I know but I won’t just look on as you treat my neighbors like this.
  1. Landlord: You people should listen, I invested in these houses because I was planning for my old age, but as if you want me and my family to sleep on an empty stomach because of your problems.
  1. Tenant 2: No way, the outbreak of this pandemic is no one’s fault, all of us were caught unaware, so if my neighbor Joyce cannot clear the rent, you should stand with her during this time until she goes back for work and she clears.
  1. Joyce: He has forgotten that I have been paying in time when I was working.
  1. Landlord: What if you don’t go back for work? I want my house!
  1. Joyce: (Crying) Landlord, I will go back, if I fail to return to where I have been working, I will look for another job. But please do not throw my property out.
  1. Tenant 2: Stop crying Joyce, he cannot throw your property outside, the president said landlords should be patient until the lockdown is over, and people resume their work.
  1. Tenant 1: And if he insists on throwing Joyce out, we should report him to police.
  1. SFX: Baby crying
  1. Landlord: As if I hear a baby crying loudly.
  1. Joyce: That’s my baby, I told you he is not fine, but you thought I was deceiving you.
  1. Tenants 2: And where is your daughter?
  1. Joyce: She is there, playing with the other neighbours children.
  1. Tenant 2: Has she had lunch yet?
  1. Joyce: Not yet, I am still preparing porridge.
  1. Landlord: But its 2pm, is it for breakfast?
  1. Joyce: No, it’s what we are going to eat for lunch. It is the flour that the government gave us.
  1. Landlord: What?! (Leaving Mic) I have to go.

Scene ends

 Joyce is a writer who works the Population Media Centre.

A Call for Submissions

Are you a young person, artist, or activist (18-30) with a story or an experience of how the outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown has affected your economic wellbeing? Did you lose your source of income? Are there career-related opportunities you lost due to the crisis? In what ways was your life been altered because of the lockdown or outbreak of the pandemic? How has all this impacted your life? How can the government and leaders help you address these challenges? Read more