By  Gloria Nakazzi, Activist

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 positive change in my society. This is why I joined an NGO called Building Tomorrow immediately after campus to contribute to developing the education system of children in rural areas.

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