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.