Uganda

Uganda: Families impacted by pandemic lockdown receive food

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Don Bosco Namugongo is helping to feed those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with Don Bosco Namugongo in Kampala, Uganda, are responding to the needs of people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Uganda is still in lockdown due to the recent deadly second wave. Health experts with the Uganda Medical Association have noted that 80 percent of people infected do not know they have the virus.

Most people in Uganda are no longer working because of the restrictions imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus. This has impacted families who are daily wage earners and who are now left with no income.

Father Elie Nyandwi, director of Don Bosco Namugongo, said, “Salesians couldn’t remain relaxed and comfortable as we witnessed many people suffering due to hunger. Our Salesian community, with its limited resources, is assisting the poor during this critical moment by visiting and giving some food to the most vulnerable families.”

Other Salesian collaborators around the mission also are joining in to help feed the poor. There is a WhatsApp group where information is shared, and people are giving the little they have or are helping to distribute the food items, including maize flour, beans and cooking oil.

Fr. Nyandwi added, “As of now, the situation has gone beyond our capacity. For instance, on July 1, we identified 50 of the most vulnerable families from our neighborhood to be assisted. These families couldn’t reach the Salesian community due to the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. We organized some food to be delivered and offered 2 kg of beans and 2 kg of maize flour since the number kept increasing drastically. We also cut about 30 bunches of bananas from our garden with some vegetables and shared with them. We thank and appeal to all generous people who can participate and join us to help the needy in this period of lockdown.”

The cost of hospital care for those with COVID-19 is incredibly high in Uganda. Fr. Nyandwi explained, “Doctors have advised the people who have tested positive but have no symptoms to avoid moving outside their homes unless when seeking medical care. For now, the hospitals, both private and public, are overcrowded. The medical bill for patients remains exorbitant whereby some private hospitals do not fear charging up to 5 million Uganda shillings per day ($1,500 USD). Only a few rich people are able to raise such a big amount. That is why most of the patients remain at their homes and treat themselves with lemon juice mixed with ginger. These patients also steam herbs and eucalyptus leaves. Don Bosco Namugongo has a eucalyptus plantation that is visited frequently by both Salesians and neighbors searching for leaves.”

Nearly 21 percent of the population in Uganda lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. This number rises to 33 percent for those living in the northern region where poverty is greatest. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its U.N. Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 159 out of 189 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.

Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate, but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.