For the first 2 weeks after the school closure I have been able to distribute weekly homework packages to the 2 groups of older children. On both Mondays they all came to pick them up from school and In place of breakfast they got some sugar cane from the garden.
On the first Thursday after the closing of the schools, as I was in the school trying to make up for the lack of maintenance of the garden until now, I had the surprising visit of someone from the Ministry of Health to check if any children were still there. I verified with him that the distribution of the weekly package was acceptable to which he agreed on the condition that the children do not linger around. No more playing marbles in the garden!
Unfortunately as of April 1st I had to stop the distribution as well in compliance with the latest measures taken by the government: lockdown and curfew from 7:00 pm for the next 2 weeks, when an update on the situation will be communicated.
The number of cases is still very low in Uganda albeit going up from 1 case on March 23rd to 48 as of today, April 4th, and according to the media all being imported cases, almost all arriving from Dubai with Emirates as Dubai was not known as a risk country.
The government took extensive measures as soon as the first case became known and they have been tightened over the last week: no public transport, be it the privately run group-taxis or moto-taxi, no more Uber and only 2 passengers allowed in private cars. With the lockdown companies are only allowed to operate if they can provide a camp for the staff on their working site. The communication campaign has been impressive as well: on the same day when the 1st case was announced, I received already half a dozen text messages from the Health Department on my mobile, reiterating the individual safety measures to observe.
Awareness among the population seems fairly good, even in the Kibutika area where world contacts are presumably rather limited. On the other hand much more people can be seen around here. The housing conditions make real confinement impossible even to the most willing and having nowhere to go, men in particular tend to sit in clusters outside.
According to experts, Africa – or at least part of it – is much better prepared to pandemics than the West, and more so since Ebola because the countries have developed strategies that they can activate and rollout at the first signal. This has been very obvious in Uganda.
The other side of the story is of course that the only chance for African countries to escape the worst is to prevent the outbreak at all cost because of the immense lack of medical facilities.
There is hope that this will work for Uganda which has been the most successful African country to contain HIV and Ebola.
Looking forward to resuming teaching “as soon as possible”, keep safe everyone!